If there is one word that I think could be used more in business it is forgiveness.
People work very hard. They become tired. Sometimes they say things that come out in a way that they didn’t mean, or they say things they shouldn’t have said but they just blurted it out.
I find that oftentimes others act too quickly to banish or bash the guilty person.
How about saying, “I want you to take some time to reflect on what you said, and then let’s talk about it.” Given this opportunity, the guilty person can discern what went through his or her mind and realize why he or she said what was said. Then the person can apologize in a sincere manner.
Then you are in a position to do something remarkable and that is to genuinely forgive the other person for the mistake he or she made.
In business there is always a lot of money involved in situations. Can you set that money to the side and truly forgive someone who said something in a way that he or she didn’t mean to do so in such a hurtful way?
In the film, Deconstructing Harry, Robin Williams played the part of Mel who was always out of focus no matter who looked at him. He looked fuzzy to everyone. The punchline is that at the end of the film all of his family members wear special glasses to be able to put him in focus. Rather than Mel changing, everyone else had to change.
In the book, The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers, Fred Rogers talked about the dangers of sublimation, which means “the process by which socially unacceptable behaviors are channeled – sublimated – into more socially acceptable ways.” For example, he talked about how violence in children’s cartoons went from an unacceptable to an acceptable behavior. People thought it was out of focus to put a machine gun in a cartoon, but little by little they allowed it to become acceptable. They put on “special glasses” to make what was out of focus, and wrong, into something that was okay.
Please don’t fall into that trap. When someone says your behavior or your words or the way you phrase things are wrong or inappropriate, don’t attack back and make the other person change. Really consider the feedback that you may be out of focus and consider what you need to do. I learn the most when someone is honest with me in a private conversation and tells me I’m out of focus.
Create something today.
Draw, paint, write, act. Make something happen.
Create a new sales training class, make a new approach to interacting with customers, build a new space at work.
Create something today.
Tomorrow, create something else.
Then tomorrow, create something else.
The next day be creative. Keep going.
Creativity is a muscle that can be developed.
Robin Williams is masterfully explained in the book, Robin, by Dave Itzkoff.
He was one of my very favorite actors. Dead Poets Society, Awakenings, and Good Will Hunting are three of my favorite films.
His uniqueness came from long periods of being left alone as a kid. He would play by himself in his attic for many hours with small toy soldiers. He created voices and characters to keep from being lonely. That experience steadily grew and was fed through improv classes, stand-up comedy clubs, Mork & Mindy, films, and lots and lots of films. Becoming another person was his gift and his obsession.
He also brought from his childhood or teenage years a down-to-earth caring for other people and a never-ending use of profane language.
I think his unique greatness, and his many downfalls, can be traced to these early experiences. Perhaps the best combination of a funny person and an inspiring actor that I’ve ever seen. I do miss him, O Captain, My Captain.
My favorite lines from Robin Williams: That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse…Carpe diem, seize the day, make your lives extraordinary.
When a radically bad news call comes in regarding your work, step back and breathe. Go for a long walk. Take it in, and look at it as though you’re having an out-of-body experience. Relax your muscles. Smile. Think of some fun event you experienced as a kid.
Slowly, gently step back into the situation. Think about what you know. Realize that a new world has begun for you, and the old world is gone. Don’t try to pretend that the old world is coming back.
Gently, steadily step into the new world. Go forward with the wisdom you’ve gained up to this point. It’s a new adventure now. It might mean starting over. And that’s okay also. You’re starting over, but not from where you were in the past. Rather from where you are today.
The new adventure will be just that: a journey into the unknown. It’s going to be okay.
Joseph Campbell wrote and spoke often about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. He said,
King Arthur gathered the knights at the round table, and told them to each go on a quest for the Holy Grail. And then one of the knights stood up and said, “We should all enter the forest at a different point, a point where there is no path, and we should each carve out our own path in our search for the Holy Grail.”
Then Campbell wrote that the Holy Grail for us today is purpose fulfillment. Clarify our purpose of why we do what we for a living, and then be willing to carve out our own path to fulfill that purpose.
Even if you work in an organization or an industry where many people do what you do, you can still do it in your own way on your own path of your own choosing.
After watching the new movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, I’m reminded that we need people like Freddie Mercury from the band, Queen, in the world. We need people who take something and stretch it out to the farthest corners of the envelope. It’s how we end up with a unique and memorable song, how we end with a Martin Luther King, Jr., a Steve Jobs, and an Oprah Winfrey.
In your work can you take on some aspect and immerse yourself into it so fully that you stretch it over to the boundaries? How about as a leader or as a manager or as a topic area expert?
If you have a Freddie Mercury type of person working for you, be careful not to fall into the trap of wanting to pull the person back toward the status quo. Otherwise you might end up with a status quo organization. Clarify the boundaries, but let people push up next to those boundaries in different ways.