When I was in college, I worked a lot. Too much looking back. The 18 hour days, the traveling, the all consuming focus of “making it happen”. While it took me another 15 years to learn to value balance, one memorable trip taught me a lot about empathy.
Here’s where the embarrassing story comes in. I was flying back from a business event, and exhausted, I fell asleep. Not bad, right? Lots of people fall asleep on planes. Give it a minute. I woke up with my shoulder on an older gentlemen’s shoulder, and…… I had drooled on him. I was horrified. After a frantic apology, I asked, “Why didn’t you wake me up?”. He replied, “My wife (sitting in the window seat next to him) and I have 5 children all older than you. It didn’t bother me a bit”.
I was in awe of his empathetic demeanor and how kind he was. At that age (19), I would have lost it if the same thing had happened to me. It gave me quite the paradigm shift.
In business and life, you’ll have situations happen to you where you have every right to be angry. I call on you to be empathetic like the older man.
Since then, I’ve been fortunate to have empathy shown to me many times both personally and professionally and I’m extremely grateful. So, I’ve tried to show the same kindness.
In our business, we’ve gone above and beyond to help people who we had no incentive to help. We’ve forgiven many that have wronged us.
We’ve had people attack us and have had to take a step back – knowing that if we attacked back, we’d crush them and didn’t want to put that into the world.
Sure, you’ll be taken advantage of occasionally – but some will take your kindness for what it is and your mercy will be an everlasting reminder in their lives.
Give it a try.