Niece: “Aunt Eunice is it okay to download a game on your phone?”
Aunt Eunice: “Yes.”
Niece: “Thanks”…pause…”it says, ‘do you want to allow notifications?'”
Aunt Eunice: “No.”
In that simple interaction I noticed how grateful I was that my niece was respectful, asked permission and that I was given a choice. Imagine if all of our conversations were as inclusive and thoughtful.
As contrasted with a recent interaction at a movie theater. The movie had started and while it was playing I took liberties to respond to a couple of texts with the phone in silent mode. Clearly poor behavior…a lady who sat across the aisle three rows behind me jumped out of her seat, ran down to me and in a very angry tone yelled in my ear “shut that thing off now or I will call the man in here.” Startled, I said nothing, put my phone away and took a deep breath as I pondered what to do next. Ultimately, I chose to continue to sit quietly, watch the movie and promptly leave the theater when it ended. That was the best I could muster at the time.
“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.”
~Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. King intended those words for the Vietnam War that was occurring at that time. However, I find them useful in our day to day concerns as we live, love, and lead. When we set a goal and allow ourselves to be given by leadership we are, in essence, declaring what is important and then doing the work to align ourselves and our environments accordingly. Being a great leader calls us forth and gives us reason to be great, to make sound choices and to lead peaceful existences.
Living inside a conversation for leadership reduces the probability of responding in a way that alienates, annoys and agitates others. What matters is that we choose what’s important, and keep coming back to that, over and over. It is incumbent upon us to identify the habitual tendencies that create conflict or alienation and learn to come back to what’s important. Life is an ongoing act of clarifying goals.
By doing so, we shed the weight of trouble, worry, angst, dissatisfaction and fear. In moments of clarity we will take the high road.
What does the high road look like in practice?
Generate Respect for others (no matter what).
As all of our mothers taught us, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything. Practice silence, don’t voice anger unless absolutely necessary.
Avoid daily conflict, drama, gossip – walk away.
Be uplifting, not critical
Be calm, composed and centered
Find and express words of kindness, encouragement and positivity.