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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Looking Beyond Our Own Concerns

The mental patient stood with his ear close to the wall, listened intently. The attendant approached. “Sh!” whispered the patient, beckoning him over. The attendant pressed his ear to the wall. “I can’t hear a thing,” he finally said. “No,” replied the patient, “it’s been like that all day!”

Some people are confident that things are going to go wrong. If things dont go wrong they should have. When they get outside the sphere of the customary they get nervous, pessimistic and uncertain.  Conspiracy theories are easy answers to their imagined concerns.  Such attitudes can be stifling.  They can stunt the progress of an organization.

A leader who is faced with this type of problem must be able to lift the eyes of of his people from their own concerns to see the legitimate needs of others.

When our concerns are no longer about ourselves but about the legitimate needs of others we are able to offer hope to others rather than wish we had hope for ourselves.  In getting beyond ourselves we discover that our problems are small in comparison to many around us.

This was demonstrated to me recently by a lady who had lost her mother.  She told me that she tried to share her grief with a friend who had lost his father.  As they discussed their grief she learned that her friend's father had been horribly and mercilessly beaten by burglars and left for dead.  Later they returned and shot him twice in the head.  The lady told me, "I broke down and cried.  I suddenly realized that even though I had lost my mother I didn't know how to help my friend in his grief.  His pain was much greater than mine."  This incident helped her to realize that others had greater concerns.  It was then that she was able to see that she needed to reach out and help others rather than continue to require attention for her own concerns.

When you are faced with this kind of problem as a leader, what steps do you take to turn the situation around?
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