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“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.” –
It’s funny. And likely very true. But cynical. Here’s a nobler quote.
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” –
I’m a Christian and what Mr. Lewis wrote is congruent with scripture. So there’s my bias and I honestly should share that.
For the last few weeks, forgiveness has come up over and over again in conversations. From personal and family stuff to corporate and business stuff. Husbands struggling to forgive wives. Employees struggling to forgive the boss. Bosses finding it hard to fend off bitterness. It’s one of those universal topics and transcends who we are, where we are or whatever station we occupy in life. Everybody needs forgiveness. And everybody can likely improve their own ability to forgive.
Why is forgiveness important? Because bitterness and resentment are destructive.
They eat us from the inside out. Hatred and other negative emotions don’t help us grow. They certainly don’t contribute toward growing great!
Compassion and forgiveness are the right things to do. That alone is reason enough. Or it should be. But there’s plenty of good reasons by it makes sense IF we’re determined to grow our lives. And our organizations.
How you treat people matters!
It demonstrates your heart, your true character. Sit down with somebody to share a meal and if they’re rude to the wait staff, you have your answer to the question, “What kind of person is this?”
CEO’s sometimes make declarations that I find puzzling. They express exasperation toward their people while simultaneously trying to express great care for their customers. It’s not congruent with growth – growing an organization and a high-performance culture. When pressed, they’ll often admit that it’s easy to hold grudges toward employees who “mess up.” Sometimes they’ll even brag about how they rarely forget such screw-ups. Employees can find it almost impossible to get out of the boss’s doghouse. Sad.
What do YOU gain by not forgiving?
Confidence in the person you refuse to forgive is lost. There’s no hope of it ever returning until you’re able to forgive. If you lack confidence in them, why do they still occupy any space in your life? Do they merely exist now to be the object of your bitterness? That’s destructive for both of you.
They don’t grow because they know you have no confidence in them. No matter what they do, there’s just no way out except to exit your life.
Maybe the relationship is worth destroying. You and they must decide. Or maybe just you. Or maybe just them. But either way, your unwillingness to forgive them seals the fate of the relationship (even if neither of you sees it right away).
Bitterness, resentment and hatred grow. I’ve not yet come across anybody who grew great by harboring those things. Maybe you’ll be the first. 😉
Your unwillingness to forgive displays the depth (or shallowness) of your compassion and grace. Tough leaders – stereotypical tough leaders – may think it’s being too soft. They think things like compassion, love and empathy are for sissies. Weaklings.
Parents unwilling to apologize to their children are weak. Parents unwilling to forgive their children are hateful, vindictive and mean. So it goes in every area of life, including the office. Leaders, like parents, have to serve with love, care and concern.
We all need forgiveness…sometimes. We all need to extend forgiveness…sometimes. More often.
It just makes sense. Forgiveness forges a path conducive for growth and improvement. That alone makes it worthwhile.
What’s stopping you? Is your pride? Your ego? You don’t want to give an inch? Whatever is stopping you is the very thing that’s getting in the way of your growth. It’s time to face it, deal with it and get past it. It’s high time you enter the land of forgiveness.
Give it try today and this entire week. Don’t wait until people ask you for it. Just give it to them anyway. Do it every day this week and I can all but guarantee that by Friday your heart will more open than it’s been in a long time. When your heart is open you’ll mind will also expand to be more open. It can’t be helped. And that, kids, will give you the power to change anything!
Become a better leader by improving your willingness to forgive. Who wouldn’t want to follow that example?
Be well. Do good. Grow great!