Archive for August, 2013
I find that criticism or judgment of others is directly related to our own sphere of understanding. This may be an obvious point, but let me share what I mean. I live in the “Bible belt” of America; there are churches on almost every single corner in town with many faith-based activities in the area. During one such event – a music concert – there was a woman down front who was really rocking out to the music. Now the music was very contemporary with guitars and drums and the whole bit, but she was really into it. At first I watched her with unease, almost disdain, because of her jumping and thrashing around. But as time went on, I stopped watching her with judgment, and it shifted to awe. Here was a woman who had no other focus in life at that moment but her connection with the music and God. She had zero concern for the world around her, including the people who may be witness to her exuberance.
When I realized the carefree moment this woman was experiencing, I was envious. I started to think, why am I not having that same sort of experience? I decided it is because of two reasons, and both of them involve judgment. 1) I still hold some concern for how others will see, therefore judge, me in that sort of environment and 2) I still hold some reservations, and therefore judgment, that such abandon is not true faith but just antics. Either way, I am sitting in judgment of others and of myself. Where does this prejudice come from, and who am I to judge? I think that the answer is that we are human. We base our decisions and our lives on our experiences and the world around us.
What we know and understand and are comfortable with becomes ‘right’, and anything else shifts to ‘wrong’. That which is uncomfortable or unknown is harder to face or deal with: so we shy away from it. It becomes easy to judge at that point, because from a simplistic view, what we know as ‘right’ makes us ‘righteous’. That is a very nice spot to live in. When we are righteous, we are justified in our judgment or condemnation of that which we find ‘wrong’, and anything that affects our righteous position makes us a victim – again, a very powerful vantage point. So what do we do?
I don’t have the answers to this dilemma. I think it is just important to recognize that it exists. As I am branching out and trying new things, I am now more conscious of my preconceived notions and my judgments. At the very least, I am trying to shelve my initial fears or reactions and just live. It is not an easy lesson and probably one that I will have to continually learn over and over again. However, just because something is different or is outside my comfort zone, it in no way means it is bad or wrong.
The Professional Development Team
My son is afraid of thunderstorms. On nights when the lightning flashes and the thunder booms, it is a given a little boy will be climbing into “the big bed” within a short period of time. Sometimes I even get ahead of him and curl up with him in his bed first. Either way, he always turns over either to hug or embrace me in his sleep. Even just a touch of his foot on my leg is enough for him to feel safe. Once he knows he has mommy or daddy nearby, he can sleep through anything – not that we get much sleep after that. Last night was one such night, and as I pondered my son’s calm, I thought about how that same sort of peace is provided by great leaders.
My son feels comforted because he knows his protectors are close at hand. He has trust that his parents will do their best to ensure no harm comes to him. He is a brave boy on his own, but he needs a little extra help with a touch or a cuddle during a storm. Leaders can do the same for us if they have the same basic relationship of trust with their team. When a team has no trust or confidence in its leader, they find no comfort in the direction or the path of the team. As with any discomfort, it is irritating and drives our attention away from other, more important things.
Leaders do not need to “cuddle” their teams, but they do need to build that trust and confidence relationship. I know that when I listen and follow leaders I truly believe in, I have no doubts or concerns about the path ahead. While I can’t say that I phrase it as peace and comfort in those situations, I can say that I am not concerned about the leadership – just the mission and goal. I am focused and ready to perform knowing that my leaders have the situation under control, and I just need to do my part. In the case of my son, he needs to calm down and sleep during a storm – mission accomplished.
The Professional Development Team