As the CEO, I’m on most of the company’s email groups for better or worse. Sometimes I get the mundane… announcements of lost car keys, etc. However I keep an eye on one kinda mundane email usually entitled “Cakes!”
This is the email “shout out” in our UK office that pastries are available for all. Something or someone is being celebrated. Interestingly, the “morale” score in the UK has climbed with the frequency of the “CAKES!” emails. Why? I don’t know the exact science or statistical significance but I do know that celebration and generosity of spirit impact company morale in very positive ways. The more celebrations and hoopla the better.
My dad, now recently passed on, was in palliative care for about four months. On one of my last days on the floor with my dad I brought in two dozen donuts and thanked the nursing staff for their on-going, loving care. These health practitioners want two-dozen carbohydrate loaded “sugar bombs” as much as a flat tire. But they cheered and were grateful. The bigger issue relates to the acknowledgment, thank you, and respect that comes from thinking of others and in sharing. It is not the donut but the thought in the middle. It sounds silly and maybe even trite; its not.
Cakes! Donuts! …a little fuel for respect.
Bring some in today!
I think it is important to consider the premise that the way we treat others is likely an indication of how we treat ourselves. As an example, if we are mean to others we can put ourselves in a foul mood. When we are uncaring or indifferent we can become empty inside. Leo Babuata at www.zenhabits.com describes this very thoughtfully (Kindfully and Mindfully, May 11/10).
The essence of respect stems from being present and mindful of every interaction with every human being. It starts with the simple things. How about just recognizing that when we go through a door, there might be someone behind us, instead of letting it “slam.” Perhaps that is a metaphor, keeping the door open for every person we interact with.
Kindness and presence takes practice. But when we act this way to others, I genuinely feel that we treat ourselves similarly and the goodwill becomes reinforcing.
The work environment is a fertile place for acting with respect. If we are mindful of every interaction with colleagues and customers and recognize that we are doing to ourselves… well, the outcame can be powerfully positive.
Now how do you want to respond to that email?
The Louisiana Gulf oil crisis is a classic example of blame becoming a barrier and detriment to the solution. Blame will not cap the well. All groups working together hopefully will: BP, Coast Guard, EPA, and local groups. All ideally want the same thing – cap the damn well and stop the environmental damage. Worry about all the litigious action likely to follow later. Law suits won’t kill the environment, weeks of spewing oil will.
Often under times of crises, blame seems to become the driving agenda between interdependent parties. Yet the immediate mandate must be to find the solution not the hollow victory of proving somebody wrong. There is a time for reviewing what happened after the problem is solved.
Leadership is bringing all parties who can add value to the table, listening with an open mind, and having the courage to make choices and act. The same principles apply to the small crises many of us are involved with regularly. See what you can do to focus on the problem and suppress the seduction to blame.
You will find yourself working on the right things in the right way.
As the CEO of a company I look around for examples of team members applying the Character Triangle everyday. Sometimes the examples are small, sometimes GIANT.
Yesterday a team member voluntarily washed a car for fellow worker who has been out of town for a month. It was just a small gesture of caring; of being kind and generous of spirit. In a story from The Times in England, neighbors packed and moved a family stranded in Florida because of the volcanic ash cloud.
Recently, I learned more about Rishi Nair, the 8-year-old son of one of our team members. A week ago Rishi appeared on The Today Show. Rishi was born without functioning kidneys. Instead of choosing the path of being a victim, Rishi and his family decided on the path of becoming a super hero and a “peaceful warrior.” Why not!?
He’s now a member of the “Character Hall of Fame.” If you have a Character Hall of Fame nominee, please let us know who, why, and how they apply the Character Triangle.
Do you sometimes want to change things? Wish They would do something to make things different? What if the They were you?
Ryan Hreljac is now 19 yrs old but this Canadian teenager was inspired at age 7 to raise $70 through doing extra chores to help build wells in Africa. In the 12 years since, his own charity, Ryan’s Wells Foundation, has helped fund more than 550 wells in 16 countries. He has helped supply clean water to 700,000 people.
Sometimes it is a matter of asking what and how you can take action to change things. Self-accountability is the courage and confidence to believe you can do something to develop a more desired state of being. This applies at work and outside of work. Each of us has way more power and influence than we often believe.
Start now… before you know it, 700,000 people have clean drinking water. Start now… your place of work will see the benefit of changes you have initiated.
I’m lying awake in that transition, a sleepless funk I often go through when traveling from North America to Europe. When I’m lying wide awake in the middle of the night my routine is to listen to the BBC. Tonight they’ve interviewed a 70 year old waitress who serves patrons in a long standing Preston, UK eating establishment. In another unrelated segment they interviewed a 27 year old single mom who works in one of Santiago’s “Cafe with Legs.” There is incredible distance between these women, geographically, culturally and in almost every way.
Yet there in an incredible common bond between these two women through the self respect each has in serving others. In both cases they run into the occasional disrespectful customer but they have control over how they choose to be what Seth Godin describes in his book Linchpin. as “artists.” They are in control of excellence. They choose to be great at what they do. They listen and laugh with their customers. They bring personal connection through the medium of a cup of coffee. Rather than feeling victimized by working in the “secondary labor market”, they choose to make their contributions great. They are valued and valuable.
Many CEOs and other execs would benefit from waiting on a few tables. We’re in the service business and can learn a lot from these two women. Greatness is in the behavior NOT the position or title. Respect is to be given. Listening is a responsibility.