NOTE: I MAY LOSE ABOUT HALF OF YOU READERS IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE CONTINUE READING TO THE END.
. . . because I voted for President Trump. I lie. I’m evil. I’m an SOB. And not only should I die but everyone around me should die also.
The most amazing part? The people calling me an evil SOB and clamoring for my death — they don’t even know me!
While scrolling through Twitter last week, I came across a tweet from a highly regarded HR influencer I follow. She made a simple, not-too-ugly (but not-too-nice either) comment about President Trump. That comment elicited three responses directed at all Trump supporters, including me.
Of course, the other side does it, too. When hanging out on Twitter, it doesn’t take long to see ugly comments and name-calling such as everyone on the Left loves China more than America and “Nancy Pelosi is a traitor.” I seriously doubt the person throwing out that gem knows Speaker Pelosi.
How did we let things get so bad, to the point where we hate everyone on the other end of the political spectrum, even to the point where we want them to contract Coronavirus and die?
I go into the office every day (well, the last few weeks I’ve stayed home and “Zoomed” into my office) and interact with teammates who have very different political ideas. I differ with other teammates on religion. And we all have different thoughts on culture, immigration, how to raise kids, and the best Mexican food in town.
We sometimes have deep, meaningful, and occasionally emotional and loud debates on these topics. Rarely are any minds changed but we do concede good points when presented.
And guess what? At the end of our sometimes heated discussion, we’re all still friends! How can that be?
We work together, respect each other, and, after the latest political debate, still laugh together because the following four characteristics light the path of our lives’ journeys:
Some people just don’t get this, I realize, and never will. In fact, the people who stopped reading this post after the first paragraph, even though at the outset I pleaded for them to stick with it, are probably calling me ugly names right now.
For most of us, though, if we’ll just adopt the four points above, perhaps we can all get along a little better, even to the point of having a meaningful conversation about some very important topics.
As for everyone on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn who thinks I’m a stupid, evil, SOB simply because I voted a certain way almost four years ago? How about connecting here on LI and let’s get to know each other.
You never know — you may just like me!
My passion is to help organizations build cultures where people are valued. Valued for who they are as a person, as an individual.
But many of us are not at work. In fact, I'm writing this from my home office. But we can still value people. Below are 10 ways we can show our care for others, both people who are close such as family, friends and neighbors, and complete strangers who will never know your name and never be able to say thank you. After all, we're not doing these things for recognition or a thanks -- we're doing these things because we care. And we want to make the world just a little bit better.
Let's start with the #1 way to value others during this time:
Stop the name-calling, bickering and rudeness on social media!
I was scrolling through Twitter yesterday and its unbelievable some of the comments I came across. Now before I go on, let me say this. Please, please, please hear me out! I'm going to lose some of you with these next few paragraphs but please stick with me, even if you disagree with my worldview.
Numerous tweets accused President Trump of murder. There were lots of comments expressing hope that Donald Trump would die due to the virus. Someone else said to keep President Trump away from Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders but have him associate with the "evil SOBs in his administration." And all of Trumps supporters were broadly labeled as stupid, fascists, racists, and other less-than-complementary terms.
Look, while I rarely agreed with President Obama, I never wished ill on him. And I don't know his character or his heart so I can't talk about the deep-inside motivations that drove his decisions. And the people around him and his supporters? I didn't want anything bad to happen to them, I didn't believe they were evil, and I never called them names.
It's no secret that our country is divided and we'll never heal or come together when we keep calling the other side names, often that start with an f-bomb.
But especially now, when so many people need our help, can't we put the politics aside, come together, and support one another, including the many government leaders who are doing their best to bring an end to this pandemic?
If you want, you can get back to name calling when this is all over (although I hope we can start having civil discussions about our differences).
Still with me? I hope so! Let's look at nine other ways to value people during this challenging time:
2. Stay home: Show your family, your co-workers, and most of all, our frontline medical workers that we care by staying home and healthy. The more we stay home, the more likely we'll avoid this nasty virus. We'll be healthy for our families and we won't add another patient to an already over-crowded, over-stressed healthcare system.
3. Sit In The Front Yard: Or on your balcony. Just because we're home doesn't mean we have to hide. My wife and I have taken to sitting on the front porch, waving to people as they stroll by or walk their dogs, saying hi and offering an encouraging word. And last night, we met two neighbors we didn't know!
If you must go out, add these small gestures to your To Do list:
4. Write a Note: It's easy to write a check-in email and send it to friends and neighbors. But how about making that extra effort by jotting down a short "thinking of you and hope you are well" note, sneaking outside when no one is around, and slipping it into a mailbox or taping it to the front door? What a great surprise to see an encouragement from a friend!
5. Take Only One Roll: Just because the sign says you can take two packs of toilet paper or two containers of disinfectant wipes doesn't mean you have to. Remember, the person behind you -- and the person who can't get to the store until the end of the day -- is just as stressed about toilet paper and hand sanitizer as you. So take one package now and come back later in the week for more.
6. Deliver cookies to ICU: We've all seen and heard the stories about our overworked and tired healthcare workers, particularly those brave men and women caring for the very sick in ICU. How about buying or baking some cookies or other tasty goodies and delivering them to your local hospital's ICU? And if you're too concerned about getting around sick people, drop the goodies off at the reception desk or simply have them delivered. And don't forget about our police and fire departments -- they're working hard, too, and would appreciate a tasty treat.
7. Treat the person behind you: As you drive through Starbucks, McDonalds, or any other food stop, after you pay for your order, treat the person behind you. Can you imagine their surprise when they don't have to pay? Then just give a friendly wave in the rearview mirror, pick up your food, and go about your business.
8. Leave an extra big tip: Many restaurant workers are out of work. Fortunately, many restaurants are still open, serving their menus as take-out. As you pick up your order, ask if the restaurant is still supporting the furloughed staff through tip sharing. If the answer is yes and you have the means, go above and beyond your normal tip and value your out-of-work server. And when we're able to return to restaurants, keep that extra tip going for a while so your server can catch up on rent and bills.
9. Donate food: On that food run to the grocery store, pick up a few extra cans of this or boxes of that and then make a quick run to the local food bank. The need for food and personal care products goes up dramatically during challenging times like this so help out those less fortunate than you by keeping the food banks stocked.
10. Donate blood: I know, this is a little bit extra effort and it's even a little scary. But the need for blood is still there. Help someone by donating not just food but life itself!
If we all pitch in and do some of these, it will be easier to make it through this pandemic. This is one of those times when we're all in it together. And who knows, maybe we'll keep doing these things after the quarantine is lifted! How awesome would that be!
What Value Others ideas do you have?
When do we stop being friends? When do we stop caring for others? When do we start yelling?
When we’re very young, we play with each other. We don’t care about your skin color or what you look like. We don’t care how you talk. We don’t care if you go to church. We simply enjoy being together.
As we get older, differences begin to emerge. I like baseball, you like football. I like video games, you’d rather play outside. Thankfully, these are minor differences which allow us to still be friends. We may not be BFFs, but we still enjoy being around each other.
So when do things get ugly? Is it because I like the Cubs and you like the White Sox. Can we still be friends? Probably.
I tend to be loud, funny, and get my energy from being with others. You’re on the quiet, serious side and recharge with some alone time, perhaps reading a book. Still okay with each other? Hopefully.
What line is crossed that pits us against each other so much that we yell at each other? And we tweet ugly comments about each other and “everyone else like you.”
Is it politics? Because you vote for one candidate and I vote for a different one, does that mean we throw away all of the things we like about each other?
Is it race? Is it religion, gender, or generation?
The bigger question, though, is how do we get back to caring for each other?
It starts with a mindset that everyone has value. Everyone is unique and special. And everyone on this planet has something to contribute to life.
So think about this throughout the week — how do you view others? Not your friends or people who look and think like you — they are fun and easy to be around.
But how do you view people who don’t look like you? Who don’t think like you?
Do you believe they have something important to say? Might she or he be able to teach you something? Are you willing to listen — really listen? Maybe even change your mind?
Why not reach out to someone this week and start a conversation about your differences? Start with your similarities and build a foundation on which you can have that difficult conversation. If you stick with a mindset that everyone has value, including the person on the other side of the political, religious, or sexual preference spectrum, I bet you end up with a new or deeper friendship.
Then we can get back to caring for one another — just like we did when we were younger.
And life will be more fun and rewarding!
In my previous blog post, we established the primary element of effective leadership, character. A review of that article comes down to two statements:
1. Without high character, it is impossible to lead effectively and leave
a long-lasting legacy.
2. Character is engraved in our soul. It's our true north.
So the next question is how does someone develop character? For our purposes here, we won’t get into questions such as genetics – are you born with good or bad character? And there’s character development during early years at home. Were you raised in a high-character environment which helped build character without even thinking about it? School also plays a part in character development as we grow. If someone is blessed to be in a good school or have high-character teachers, they can develop high character without really trying.
While these points are certainly valid and critically important for character development, our discussion will focus on our adult years. How can we develop our character, either repairing our damaged reputation from past behavior or working to improve and protect the character we’ve developed over the years?
Stephen Covey says we build character by overcoming challenges and adversity. Helen Keller had a similar thought, saying character is developed through experience, trial, and suffering. Author Grenville Kleiser said character is developed through self-discipline and self-control.
The above thoughts are certainly true but waiting for those stressful life challenges to develop our character is a risky proposition. Preparing for those character-defining moments is a much better option! Expending time and energy on the following eight “Be’s” will not only develop your character but also develop your leadership abilities.
Be authentic: People want to follow leaders who are “real.” Strong character requires genuineness or authenticity in all aspects of your life. In groups large and small, in public and in private, leaders must show the same “face” and be consistent in both words and behaviors.
Be humble: Sadly, in today’s “Look at me!” culture perpetuated by constant Facebook and Instagram posts, modesty is seen as a weakness by some people. This is not the case for leaders. Let’s be clear – humbleness is not thinking little of yourself. It is, though, being self-aware or having an accurate assessment of your abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Being humble also means being mindful of others, typically putting their needs ahead of yours.
Be reassuring: There are many related words here such as be comforting, be calm, be uplifting, and be positive, encouraging, and supportive. Leaders with strong character have a “presence” about them that helps others be confident and poised in any situation, particularly in times of stress and ambiguity.
Be a truth seeker: Leaders with strong character don’t allow their biases, prejudices, and emotions guide their words and actions. Strong character demands truth and facts and when those truths are uncomfortable or even hurtful, leaders with character handle the situation with a sense of caring and compassion.
Be courteous: The world is getting more and more harsh. It’s getting more difficult to have a meaningful conversation with people who might disagree with your particular thought. Accept differences in people, be polite to everyone, and always offer a kind word or helpful deed.
Be selective: Surround yourself with people of character. Let their character rub off on you. Challenge you. Choose your friends and your business associates wisely. We are often known by the company we keep so be sure the people surrounding you add to your character rather than subtract from it.
Be last: Seek the background rather than the limelight. By default, most leaders get the attention. Leaders with strong character realize their success is often the result of many others working hard. So shine the spotlight on others and offer generous amounts of praise and thanks. Remember what Simon Sinek said — Leaders Eat Last.
Be protective: No one can take your character but you can certainly give it away. Be wise in your decisions and guard your character as the treasure it is.
Can leaders be effective without practicing the above “Be’s”? Absolutely! History is full of less-than-honorable leaders who have made huge impacts on the world, usually with dire consequences on people and society.
A lasting, positive impact, though, requires a leader to have a strong character that guides their thoughts and actions. This type of leader most certainly makes the world a better place.
Our world is in desperate need of leaders with strong character. Will you be one of them?
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.