I once ran for president. My motivation was a pretty mixed bag. My insecure, success-oriented self very much wanted the title and the upward mobility such a position would offer. Yet, I also had a strong desire to affect change in the current structure in which I lived.
The aspiration to lead can be a good thing. Using influence and wisdom to build community and impact the world in a positive manner is a principle I attempt to instill in those with whom I interact. Yet it seems I’ve developed two nasty perspectives that will prohibit me from future aspirations of obtaining pinnacle positions of leadership.
I don’t know everything. This is a shocking statement, I know. Yet, it seems our society has come to expect that an expert in one field must be an expert in all fields. It seems humility, asking for help or the changing of one’s opinion is looked upon as weakness by many. Such unrealistic expectations of leadership placed on those holding positional authority promote isolation and justify the abdication of responsibility by many who transfer blame away from themselves. To me, this presumptive thinking short-circuits collaboration, innovation and personal growth. I’d rather learn with people.
I’m sick of the need to win. Too much of our sound byte culture limits in-depth, respectful communication. Often, constructive communication is hijacked by short quips designed to belittle another person. I’m in favor of seeking truth and a “good” answer to life’s questions, but so much of what I see lately smacks of a comparative, “I’m better than you mentality.” And I’m tired of it. My position relative to others is losing its interest to me. These days, I find cheering for people more enjoyable than promoting myself.
To be sure, I often require course adjustments to maintain such a mentality. As I attempt to follow Jesus’ command to love God and love others I frequently go back to this credo: Be real, take risks and respect others. This last aspect (respecting others) comes directly out of Jesus’ statement in Mark 10:42-45, “Jesus called them together and said, 'You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whomever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'"
Momentarily, I am disheartened by a lack of respect and what seems a spirit of belittling others or judging their motivation. So I’m looking to you for help: what methods do you employ to respect others? How does it manifest itself in your life?