Touchy feely fru fru alert!
Forgiveness is a quality of the highest character. Something we should all aspire to incorporate into our lives, something we should elevate and increase as much as possible.
I know revenge and getting even is deemed more fulfilling, but that’s a lie. They’re not. They damage us more deeply. Forgiveness enhances and improves us. Forget the benefits to the forgiven. WE benefit.
You can research on your own, if you care, the enormous benefits of forgiveness. And there’s empirical evidence that revenge, resentment, and bitterness destroy us. There’s just no upside to neglecting forgiveness. But if you want to lower your character and the quality of your life, then you can do that.
I’m focused on forgiveness because in the next few days I want to provoke you to think increasingly more about service, servitude and stewardship. These are the components of leadership I most often see missing!
The first C focal point of my work is COMPASSION. People ballyhoo empathy today. And I agree. It’s important. But compassion is how empathy’s horsepower is put down on the pavement. Without compassion, empathy is unrealized horsepower. Compassion prompts empathy to take action.
One of the most fundamental actions born from compassion is forgiveness.
Great leadership cannot exist without compassion. It’s impossible. Every great leader cares deeply about people, especially those people willing to follow or be influenced. You can certainly be a boss without compassion. Fact is, there are likely tons of those roaming the wild. Bosses focus on making decisions and telling people what to do. Judgment rules their life. They’re always judging what people do, criticizing it and attempting to correct it. I’ve never found any success in converting bosses into leaders. In my experience, they’re just too committed to being the boss and being in charge. Authority matters more to them than service and influence.
My feelings about forgiveness mirror how I feel about optimism. I just don’t see the downside. People often hear me say, “I know optimism is hard, but pessimism is harder.” Ditto on forgiveness. It’s often crazy hard, but holding a grudge and refusing to forgive is way harder.
Think of a time when you sought somebody’s forgiveness. Do you remember how desperately you wanted it? Did you get it? When you did, how did it make you feel?
Our desire to seek forgiveness can be as strong a desire as anything. And our relief when it’s granted it among the biggest exhale moments of our life. So I don’t have to persuade you how valuable forgiveness is. You know.
Here’s the business aspect we must consider – the lasting impact on us (or whoever does the forgiving) and the lasting impact on the people forgiven.
We’re all capable of insanely improved behavior when others extend enough graciousness to us to forgive us. It enhances our desire and effort to earn it even if it’s beyond our ability to earn it. And that’s AFTER it’s been given to us.
Forgiveness is a singular act that proves our compassion as a leader. It enhances our ability to be trusted unlike anything else. That fosters a level of unparalleled safety for our culture. When people trust more deeply and feel safer, performance is enhanced.
The opposite is true. Don’t foster trust with your team. Don’t make them feel safe. Then expect them to soar and tell me how well that works for you.
Let people make mistakes. Let them mess up. It’s grand permission to let them learn, understand and grow. But only if you’re willing to forgive them.
Be well. Do good. Grow great.