There’s a great deal of focus in my life on personal and professional growth right now. It consumes me – in the most positive way – and I find it absolutely great, fun and so very inspirational. Anyway, I was talking with a friend today about my thoughts on the importance of a leader being compassionate – personally and professionally.
I firmly believe that no successful leader or individual can lack compassion as to me that equals being unaware of your true essence as a being. A compassionate individual sees things in people – they see their strengths and weaknesses as well as their passions and fears. They see what makes others special and they work to draw that out. A great leader recognize that compassion begins from within. And that it is only when you can forgive and love yourself, as you can give that forgiveness and love to others.
Fall, to rise again
However it seems that it is not until one individual, at one point or another in his/hers life, truly has fallen down that (s)he fully develop – and practise – compassion as it should be practised. This might not be so strange though considering that it usually is in the process of getting up from such “fall down” that you discover who you really are, what you truly care about and how you want to live the rest of your life. You learn so much more on the way up than you possibly can do at the top.
“Maybe it is true that it’s only when you have nothing, that you can learn what is truly meaningful to you!” – Ulrika @GustoLifeGroup
A great compassionate leader has done this journey, personally – spiritually – and professionally. And it’s through that journey – those challenges – that they have come to recognize that each and every one of us have something special within us. Such aware leader, or individual, also knows that it’s only through developing a meaningful relationship with another person that you can draw the gift of genuine compassion out in the open.
“Compassion is a verb.” – Ulrika @GustoLifeGroup
It’s not enough to just feel it though. Compassion is worthless unless you in fact do something with it! And this is why humility is the precursor to compassion. Humility is what opens you up in a way that enables compassion to “flow in” and become real.
A compassionate relationship
In a compassionate relationship you pull another person in by genuinely listening and asking questions. There’s a valuable lesson for you to learn from every individual and situation you encounter. As a compassionate leader you constantly need to ask yourself,
– Do I make people feel better about themselves?
– Do I make them feel like they are capable of achieving more than they ever thought they could do?
– Am I courageous enough to enpower others or does my fear cause me to micro-manage/want to control instead?
– What can I learn from this individual and this situation?
“Great leaders dare to be vulnerable” – Ulrika @GustoLifeGroup
That’s what compassion is all about – letting go of fear, daring to be vulnerable and be encouraging, caring, sharing, listening and loving towards others! And it’s amazing, it can be as easy as just listening or saying a kind word to a loved one, a stranger or a fellow employee.
In his book An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life, Dalai Lama writes that true compassion “has the intensity and spontaneity of a loving mother caring for her suffering baby. Throughout the day, such a mother’s concern for her child affects all her thoughts and actions. This is the attitude we are working to cultivate with each and every being. When we experience this, we have generated great compassion.” Simple. And beautiful!
“A man is walking along a beach and comes across a boy picking something up off the sand and gently throwing it into the ocean. Curious, the man asked, ‘What are you doing?’
‘I am throwing starfish into the ocean,’ the boy answered. ‘The sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them in, they will die.’
The man said, ‘Well, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t possibly make a difference.’
The little boy bent down and he picked up another starfish and threw it into the surf. He smiled at the man and said, ‘But I made a difference to that one.’ ” – The Star Thrower