Let me ask you something: have you watched Fergie’s performance of the National Anthem at the 2018 NBA All-Star Game? If you did, have you discussed it in conversation with anyone? If so, what kind of comments did you make? Did you go out of your way to be cruel or did you offer a gentle—albeit honest—opinion? The words you said or didn’t say make all the difference.
You see, we have a real problem in the world today regarding lack of kindness, patience and compassion: three traits that directly affect our ability to connect, lead and succeed in every corner of life. This is a deeply layered issue that I won’t attempt to unfold here and now, but it is something that I believe not enough of us truly understand. By this, I mean that many of us do not understand the real root of the issue: one that speaks to a desensitized culture that overlooks—if not, outright rejects—any feelings, experiences or perceptions outside of our own.
You might laugh at this and think, “Calm down, it’s just Fergie.” Yet therein lies the issue. This is a real person with real emotions. How can we build up strong communities—communities of women, families, friends or leaders—in a world where it is okay or even encouraged to attack others based on perfectly natural flaws or mistakes? A world in which some go out of their way to publicly pour salt on the wound (case in point: this BuzzFeed article that unnecessarily curates demeaning responses to Fergie’s performance).
Or this article in which someone criticizes model Chrissy Teigen for holding her daughter (yes, seriously). Or, this article in which actor Chris Pratt is mocked for offering his thoughts and prayers to a friend who had recently suffered a heart attack.
For the life of me, I cannot understand why these articles even exist.
So, here is my question: do your words change depending on your company? Are you kind in some moments and cruel in others? Do you use today’s culture as a crutch to act in unkind, uncompassionate and impatient ways? The way I see it, we need to treat every person we meet as though they are our greatest asset: our closest friend, a beloved mentor, an esteemed colleague.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I constantly have moments like this of my own. Just this week, I found myself getting impatient with a client who didn’t seem to understand what I was trying to say via email. All along, it turned out I was misunderstanding her request. I found myself very thankful that I didn’t fly off the handle or speak badly about this client to anyone prior to resolving the issue because SHOCKER: I was the one who had to shift my point of view.
In today’s world of self-servitude, real change comes in being others-focused. Not just today or tomorrow, but for the course of our lifetime. In my experience, I’ve found the greatest change in life is triggered by an individual’s desire to change him or herself. How are we representing ourselves? How are we influencing others, whether we know it or not? If we can be aware of ourselves and our ability to grow in kindness, compassion and patience, we can pave the way towards a better world and set the tone for those who will come after us.
Allison is a Freelance Content Marketer and Author of “The Everyday Woman’s Guide to Entrepreneurship.” She helps disruptive brands drive extraordinary outcomes as a writer extraordinaire, and in her spare time consults female entrepreneurs as a personal brand strategist. She loves helping women discover their innermost power and confidence, which is what she believes to be the most effective drivers of sustainable change and long-term success.