Those who forgive faults foster love, but those who repeatedly recall them ruin relationships. Proverbs 17:9 (The Voice)
Day 6 – Those Who Forgive
There’s a meme floating around the internet that says, “If you ask your husband to fix something around the house, he will. There’s no need to remind him every six months.”
No one likes a nag, right?
Worse than that, no one likes a constant reminder of their failures.
“I forgive you…but never let you forget that you hurt me.” That’s not forgiveness, that’s emotional manipulation.
Those who forgive faults foster love. Why? Because we all love being around people who forgive us. Those willing to overlook our quirkiness are who we call friends.
But those who repeatedly recall them ruin friendships. And while it says friendships, the reality is that it’s any relationship.
A recent Gallupsurvey reports that 34% of employees are considered “engaged” in the workplace.
Surprised it’s not higher?
It actually ties for the highest number in the eighteen years of the survey. And it’s trending up.
The reason? Employee appreciation.
Turns out, people like being appreciated. They like being told they are doing a good job. People enjoy thanked and valued. Want to have less employee turnover? Thank them for doing a good job.
What psychology tells us today, the psalmist told us millennia ago.
Placing value in relationships means overlooking offenses and fostering love.
Advent’s waiting reminds us of our need to be in relationships. We are longing for a relationship with the Creator of the Universe. We are longing to be restored to those around us. Our greatest desire is to be in right relationship: with ourselves, with others, and with God.
The way he does that is through forgiveness. The way we do that is similar: forgive faults, forget them, and never bring them up.
I learned the necessity of emotional intelligence like a child learning to walk. There was lots of hand-holding, many more tremendous crashes (often public), and more than a few bumps and bruises.
The Leader’s Guide to Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence is like playing the piano. The greater the range, the greater the player.
As a pianist, my musical accomplishment is limited to chopsticks. On a good day, I might be able to find middle C.
For my wife, after some tinkering, she can learn to play fairly complex songs. She can tune her guitar, sing along as she plays, and is good enough to teach our children.
A world-class pianist can play amazing complex songs. The piano seems to come alive in their hands. Every technique is mastered. Each hammering of the keys is intentional. Everything ringing with a divine sound.
Emotional Intelligence works the same way. Emotionally immature people have a very limited range of keys to play from. Usually, they are the basic emotions of happiness, sadness, anger, and fear. A situation arises, and their keystrokes are limited. Everything triggers them to respond in simplistic ways.
I knew a man like this once. Though physically mature, the emotional range was limited. Within a split-second, he could go from happiness to anger. Worse than that (as someone who claimed to be a leader), there was little desire to change.
“I’m just this way. I’ve always been this way, I’ll always be this way. “
This limiting belief and limited emotional capacity will limit his leadership capacity.
Expanding The Emotional Range
Expanding emotional range happens with practice. Like each new key on the keyboard that a pianist can play, emotional range equips the leader for more situations.
Think of a strong emotion like anger. Those with limited emotional capacity experience lots of anger. The lack of self-awareness leads to them repeatedly pounding the same key over and over again.
They get cut off in traffic and are angry.
The restaurant takes too long to cook their food and they are angry.
Their child leaves their shoes in the middle of the floor and they are angry.
They are passed over for a promotion and are angry.
Their favorite team loses in the championship game and they are angry.
Bothered by the amount of trash in the local park, they are angry.
Like a new piano player, they keep hitting the same note. Always angry, always looking for a reason to explode, always at the ready to let everyone know how they feel.
In contrast to this, there are ranges of anger: annoyance, frustration, furious, exasperated, and bitter are a few examples. Each is a different key to more adequately express the current emotion.
Do your child’s shoes in the middle of the floor really make you angry or are you annoyed because you tripped over them?
Does the missed promotion make you exasperated because you worked hard and thought you earned it?
The more keys that are available to us as leaders, the better we can navigate the situations around us.
The thing about leadership is that it is never a finished journey. New experiences and new insights lead to new emotional experiences.
Leaders set the standard. Recently, I read an article (excerpt below) that reminded me about the vital importance of leadership culture. This week, we’re talking about the culture challenge faced in leadership, and ways to overcome and transform poor culture.
“The culture inside the Nebraska locker room isn’t OK.
Scott Frost made that apparent during the bye week, when on his radio show he said there was a “portion” of the team not ready to play at Minnesota, where the Gophers blew out the Huskers.
He went all in and called out his team Saturday, saying his team is ‘just OK’ and that he’s not ‘going to be happy with just OK.'” (source)
As a fan of all things Nebraska, this has been a particularly painful football season. While most of the last twenty years has been a disappointment for one of college football’s most storied and proud programs, this one hurts deeply.
The expectations were different. The season was supposed to be different. The outcome was supposed to be different.
Year two of a coach’s tenure is supposed to see improvement. Year two of Scott Frost’s tenure at Nebraska, his alma mater, was supposed to be glorious.
Instead, eight games into the season, analysts are reporting how the culture is, ‘just okay.’
Just Okay Is Not Okay
When talking about culture, on the field or in a company, just okay is not okay. Fighting okay is a big part of the culture challenge faced by leaders.
Leaders set the standard of conduct. They set behavior expectations, acceptable methods of social interaction, as well as the vision and direction of an organization. When someone, or a group of someones, fails to live up to those standards, it is up to the leadership to change the culture.
There are, of course, many ways to do this. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to unpack the importance of culture in leadership. We’ll examine how to create a new culture if you’re in a startup, and how to change a bad culture.
For now, here are three principles to use no matter what your current circumstance is.
1.) Set a Clear and Compelling Vision
Like a masterpiece painting, a healthy culture is a product of vision and hard work. Longing for a great culture and actually having one are two different things.
As a leader, spend time intentionally investing in the culture and direction of your company, team, and surrounding people.
What does the workday “feel like?
How do people act?
What’s the end goal?
How does your department handle promotions? Confrontations? Missed sales goals or development targets?
If you can’t articulate your culture clearly and simply, it needs more work. Worse yet, if it doesn’t inspire others to be better, it will ultimately bring harm.
The goal is to articulate the what and why of the organization in a way that shapes, inspires, and transforms.
2.) Inspire Others to Greatness
Once the vision is clear and compelling it should inspire those that hear it. It should be a place where people outside of the organization say, “I want to work for them.“
Inside the organization, there should be tangible feelings of joy, clarity, and a desire for growth. This doesn’t mean that people necessarily want to work longer hours, but it means that they want to work harder in the hours they do work. Why? Because their work has meaning and purpose. They know that they are contributing to something greater, something beyond themselves.
The goal is to call forth the highest level of character achievement and belonging.
3.) Take Immediate Action
Violations of the culture will happen. Eventually, someone will know that a tardy might go unnoticed and regularly start showing up late. Part of a healthy culture is dealing with problems that arise quickly, fairly, and with the goal of restoration. Discipline happens to correct behavior and hold the standard high, not to deliver punishment.
Tardiness is corrected not by docking pay, but by showing them what is missed or at stake when they fail to show up on time. Poor attitude with customers doesn’t mean demotion, it means providing better training to help them deal with the stress of other people’s bad attitudes.
The goal is to restore the person to their own personal standard of morals, to the team, and to the vision and culture set in the company.
The challenge presented to Scott Frost is daunting. Not only does he have to instill his good culture, but he also has to overcome the bad culture he inherited. On top of that, he has to rewrite twenty years of poor standards.
For many of us, we face similar situations. Family histories, company profits, and personal standards all confront us on a daily basis. Some we inherit, others we create. All need to be transformed and redeemed.
Creating a compelling, inspiring, and consistent culture is not easy. But it is worth it.
On this week’s podcast, Elise and I are talking about the five emotional warning signs of overwhelm.
These are clues to help you (or someone you know) who may be struggling with being overworked and overcommitted.
Experiencing emotions is good and throughout the course of the day, we will experience a lot of them. These are warning signs for when these emotions are either our default mode of response or an unrelenting presence in our lives.
This podcast includes five emotional warning signs and some insights on how to fight against the tide of overwhelm.
Those were the words my client told me over the phone.
Frustrated and agitated, he was lamenting the increasing toll his recent promotion was taking on him. The commutes were longer, the workdays were more exhausting, the stress was mounting.
“Was the pay increase really worth this?” he continued. “Sure, the pay is great, but what’s the point if I can’t enjoy it. Worse than that, I barely see my family anymore!”
Perhaps you can relate.
Maybe you’ve had one of the “crazy weeks.” (Wait…isn’t every week like that???)
My advice remains the same now as it was then: start with the big rocks.
Determine Your Big Rocks
I remember hearing of a study once that examined the student’s ability to properly fill an aquarium full of rocks. There were various sizes of rocks from tiny pebbles to larger foundational rocks.
As the story goes (at least as it was reported to me), the college students started dumping rocks, starting with the small one first to fill the bottom evenly.
By the time they got to the big rocks, not everything would fit.
In contrast to this, the kindergarten students started with the big rocks and everything looking messy. But, as they poured each successively smaller version of rocks in, they filled all the gaps.
The result? The college students “failed” the experiment by not fitting in all of their assigned rocks. In contrast to this, the kindergarten students passed because all of the rocks fit.
And while dozens of life lessons could be learned from this, this is why I push my clients to start with the big rocks.
When we start with the big rocks of life, we end up having room for everything. Work is undoubtedly an important part of life, but is it our biggest rock? Probably not. (At least it shouldn’t be…)
Family, self-care, personal growth, and close relationships are all things that should take up the foundation of who we are. Hobbies and work probably come next. Small rocks include the minor areas of life that take up some time but should never take too much.
As we gain clarity on what our big rocks are, we can easily see what is out of balance with our life pace.
Learning From My Kids
One of the things I’ve learned to implement is a lesson from my four children. If I leave the house and I hear, “Bye, dad! I can’t wait to see you later!” there is a good chance that things are going well. If, on the other hand, I hear, “Noooooo. Daddy, don’t go!” followed by weeping and gnashing of teeth, I know that my priorities for work are starting to take up too much time.
In those moments, I work diligently to reshape my schedule to spend more time with my family.
Thankfully, I’m getting better at this and starting to hear those sounds of disappointment less.
But it all starts with having clarity.
Clarity on the key values for my life.
Conviction on what matters most.
Commitment to live a life shaped by honoring my values more than worldly demands.
But I can only do that when I start with the big rocks.
Question For Discussion: What might be something you would say to someone struggling with work-life balance? Leave a comment below!