Posts Tagged righteousness
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
As leaders, it is a pleasure and an honor to praise and acknowledge the achievements of individuals and our teams; it can also backfire in our faces. With the increased demands on people for higher quality, faster productivity and fewer resources to use, excellence in the world deserves admiration. While it is not always necessary to give accolades, I think many people feel it is nice to be noted and recognized for accomplishments. It gives leaders an opportunity to directly relate hard work with superior results that made an impact. The opposite side to this topic is the person or group who feels left out or slighted when it comes to praise. Some team members may ask “What about me or us?” Then there are others who do not wish to be praised at all; they prefer to remain unidentified.
We each have our own interpretation of the value of our work and our efforts. When we are recognized by our leaders for our work, in a way it validates our interpretation. When we are working within a team or a group, acknowledgement of the entire team may be sufficient if it is agreed that every team member puts forth an equivalent amount of effort or participation. However, if there is a sense of burden for one or two people to ‘carry’ the team, commendation for the entire group may seem unjustified or unfair. Think of it this way: How would you feel if you and your siblings were told to clean up your shared room and you are the only one who does any of the work while the others goof off? What if you and your siblings then got the same reward for cleaning your room, yet they were little or no help? That type of scenario pings on our sense of righteousness.
As leaders, what can we do? One common thread in my blogs is communication, and this subject is no different. We need to communicate with our teams, often and directly. Through communication we are aware of the level of work being performed as well as the people responsible for doing the work. This makes it easier to acknowledge superior effort since we have the data to back up our praise. Using data or a process to define excellence, our accolades are less generic and more tailored to that particular group or task. This may ease the sense of righteousness felt in others since the praise is more explicit. Keep in mind though, not all awards must be specific or elaborate; sometimes a very simple “thank you” and a handshake will suffice. Either way, people know they are appreciated, and that is the best motivator for future success than leaders could ever hope for.
CEO, The Professional Development Team