Tuesday, November 22, 2020

Right Gratitude

Most of what we have in life hasn't been earned. We were given it by someone else. Our life itself is a gift. No one can be born without parents, and even if they're not always what we would wish them to be, the fact remains they gave us life. Even our success at work is rarely due entirely to our own efforts. Someone has to provide us with office space, desk, computer and other basic services. It's fashionable to ignore this, and make fun of the "backroom types" who keep our world running, but that doesn't make it right.

What I call Fast Leadership — today's norm for most situations — isn't too strong on gratitude of any kind. It encourages us to focus instead on competing, grabbing, on getting our share and making sure we don't fall behind. Devil take the hindmost, we say. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. If you can't hack it, you're dead meat. Is someone weak and in need of help? Too bad. Let them go and hire someone who can stand the pace.

Take a moment to think — really think — about a world based on ideas like this. Can you imagine the misery and alienation? If you fall behind, even a little, no one will help you. Nobody will stop to give you a hand or say "thank you" for your efforts. Everyone is out for themselves. Every favor must be paid for, every advancement comes at someone else's expense. You're on your own, completely.

You can't live in such a world. Thank God, no one does — yet. Despite all the hype, people need other people. Gratitude is natural — even necessary. We're social animals, however self-obsessed and self-conscious we allow ourselves to become. Macho entrepreneurs may boast of being "self-made," but it's a lie. None of us can make ourselves. As children, we're totally dependent on others for food, shelter and warmth. That's why street children are such a disgrace to humanity. And that's why most of them die. We are where we are today because of the efforts of a few people we know and many hundreds we don't — tinkers, tailors, soldiers, sailors, teachers, doctors, nurses, farmers, truck drivers, and all other groups that make our privileged lives possible.

How much of what you are today is due solely to your own efforts?  Not your birth, not your clothes, not your food, not your education, or even your ability to speak and write and read your native language.  People taught you how to do your job.  Others helped you win promotion and made your income and standard of living possible.  Still others made the car you drive and the house you live in. Are you "self-made?" Don't be ridiculous. It's not possible.
Slow Leadership demands we take the time to give proper appreciation to those who support us. It's strange that organizations and leaders fuss over motivation and incentives, when they ignore the greatest incentive of all — appreciation. What's more, it's free. It's even in unlimited supply, though the miserly way most leaders dole it out would lead you to believe they had to pay for it with their own blood.

What do we all want? To be appreciated, valued, listened to and loved a little. Can you imagine a world where appreciation and gratitude is the norm, instead of the exception? Where leaders recognize they owe their position to the people "beneath" them and act on that knowledge? Would that be a world worth living in and striving for?

It's in our hands to create such a world, or destroy it. Leaders set the example others follow. So if you start remembering what and who you need to be grateful for, others will too. It could start a trend — and surely a better one than setting an example of climbing over the prone bodies of others on your heedless way to the top.

We're pleased and honored to announce that tomorrow's Guest Author will be Patricia Ryan Madson, best-selling author of "Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up". Make sure you read her inspiring posting.
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zinger said...

What a wonderful concept of slow and leadership. I didn't race through the post and I didn't quickly link to the next page. I appreciate the perspective and I look forward to reading future posts, going back to read past posts, but mostly inhabiting the now and fully reading and thinking about the post that is on the page I have open. Well done and thanks.

10:19 AM  
Hal H said...

A great post. I quoted you and linked to it. Thanks.

4:42 PM  
Carmine Coyote said...

Thanks, Hal. I really appreciate your comment.

7:15 PM  

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