A colleague of mine created a model some time back that she calls KindExcellence. Her premise is that kindness and excellence and forever linked and that in order to have one you must have the other. I agree with her.
I have been a human resources practitioner, C level executive, and management consultant now for over thirty years and it concerns me how we seem to be losing some of our ability to be kind.
I don’t mean kind in terms of charity or graciousness or acts of philanthropy; but rather kindness in terms of tolerance and respect for the viewpoints and rights of others.
As I have watched the political debates, read the blogosphere, and participated in conversation the dialogue I hear continues to be more and more mean spirited and divisive.
I have strong opinions. Anyone who has ever worked for or with me knows that I have high expectations and push myself and others to achieve them. When my expectations are not being met I communicate that to the people or organizations who aren’t meeting them. I try to do that constructively. It may not be nice, but I feel to withhold that information is dishonest and unkind.
We have an election coming up. The candidates represent different viewpoints, but the amount of vilification and vitriol I see exchanged is mind boggling. I have to tell you that it reinforces my belief that the literacy testing for voters that was inappropriately applied to prevent people of color from participating in the election process should be resurrected- for everybody!
When you see candidates running on a platform of nothing more than ensuring their agenda is the only one that gets heard we have really deteriorated.
Even in watching the Olympics I see a nastiness; I read comments about Gabby Douglas suggesting her gold medals were a product of Affirmative Action and detailed critiques of her hair. Really! She is a sixteen year old young woman who gave the best performance on a given night.
Michael Phelps has become the most prolific medal winner of all time, but I see nasty comments about him being a doper and “druggy” because of a picture a few years back where he was toking on a bong. Does that make him a “doper” or eliminate his achievements? Are the people making those comments sure their kids never inhaled?
One of the latest targets is Lolo Jones who has been targeted because of a fourth place finish and exploiting her sexuality while also indicating she has preserved her virginity. Well call me a hypocrite, but I think she is pretty damned attractive! She also seems like a bright young woman who gave it her all.
I don’t agree with the viewpoints of everyone I know and work with or frankly even some of my closest friends and family, but I was raised and raised my children to respect the viewpoints of others. Respecting and tolerating the viewpoint of another doesn’t make me weak or a victim.
Imposing my viewpoint on someone else because of superior economic, physical, relational or other advantages does make me a bully. The key word is imposing. To convince or debate or persuade is not imposition.
I think society and the world are much more complex than they were 240 years ago when our Founding Fathers framed the guidelines for our government.
I think society is very complex and has evolved from when Jesus preached the gospel.
The interesting thing for me is when I read those documents I don’t see the absolutism that others do. I don’t see interpretations with no tolerance or acceptance for differing interpretations or viewpoints. I don’t see imposition.
I think part of the issue is that most of us don’t like ambiguity. We want to know exactly what the rules are. They teach us that in school, how to you get the A. They teach us that at work, although we talk about creativity we reinforce compliance and mask it in weasel words like consistency and equity.
I think a society and organizations do have the right to create social and other norms to provide for the many as long as there is appropriate consideration for the few.
Pursuing my dreams, providing for my security and the security of my family, and other rights doesn’t in my mind prevent me from respecting the rights of others to do the same. I believe in abundance rather than scarcity. A rising tide raises all boats.
"In my dream the angel shrugged and said this time if we fail it will it will be a failure of imagination-
And then she gently placed the world in the palm of my hand."
In my dream there is a place for kindness…..