Sympathy Kills the Spirit
One evening several years ago, my wife and I drove an hour to go visit a church and listen to a speaker named Nancy. Nancy had a miraculous story of having survived the July 17, 1981 collapse of a catwalk in the Hyatt Regency. To say the least, Nancy was a dynamic speaker. Just my opinion, listening to her speak was accompanied by some “churchy” activity that was quite bizarre and Nancy didn’t shy away from theatrics. But there was one phrase that she said that stuck with me all these years.
“Sympathy kills the Spirit.”
If you will pardon me for waxing a wee bit academic for a moment, I will tell you why I agree with Nancy’s assertion.
Let’s start with this summary from the February 8, 2016 Dictionary.com Blog about the difference between “Sympathy” and “Empathy”
Both have the same Greek root word “pathos” meaning “suffering,...
You have a bank account. Every day $86,400 gets deposited. No balance is carried over from day to day. No cash balance is allowed. Every evening cancels whatever part of the money you have failed to use during the day.
What would you do? Draw out every cent of course!
Well, each one of us has such a bank. It is called TIME.
Every morning it credits you 86,400 seconds.
Every night it writes off as a loss whatever of this you have failed to invest for a good purpose.
It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the records of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against “tomorrow”. You must live in the present on today’s deposits.
Invest it to get the utmost in health, happiness, and success. The clock is running. Make the most of today.
“Time is your life. When you waste your time,...
The last thing my son, Jonah, said as I looked at him in the rearview mirror was,
“I am going to have fun with this.”
Then he shut the back hatch and walked into school sporting his black cape, white gloves and face half-painted white (a clever way to get around the no mask rule for Costume Day).
Schools in the United States have a couple of weeks each year of Spirit Week. These fundraising weeks typically have a theme for each day. Whether during one of these theme days, or some other occasion, a Costume Day at a school is a fairly common experience and may not seem like fodder for a discussion on leadership. Perhaps, you will see it as my excuse to brag about my son. So be it.
The thing I admired about Jonah’s approach to the day was his initiative and intentionality. It wasn’t on a grand scale but sometimes it is the small choices we make that determine the difference between regret and fond memories. As soon as Jonah heard the day was...
“The kettle’s on the boil and we’re so easily called away.”
I can still see Buford Makenzie “Chief Mac” sitting on the stool in the front of the room, all 6 foot 3 inches of him with his forearm crutches leaning against the stiff legs of his polyester pants and his custom-made black orthopedic shoes with the four-inch sole to compensate for his short-left leg. He was a hulking man. Even nearing 80, you knew his “disability” had belied his strength his entire life and his power wasn’t fading yet. It is true he had certain catch phrases he said over and over again, but so what! So does John Maxwell and Les Brown and every other guru out there. I am sure my kids think I do too.
Chief Mac would sit up there with his big hands raised to shoulder height and proclaim,
“It’s a mystery how all the parts of camp (therapeutic camps for troubled boys/girls) came together. It’s like a pound cake....
“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”
Do you know who wrote that line? How about this one?
“Plans fail for lack of counsel,
but with many advisers they succeed.”
The same guy wrote both, and not just any guy, but the one who was deemed the wealthiest man who had ever lived. Not only that he was also said to have been gifted as being the wisest man ever. He had the rare combination of having a ton of cash and a lion’s share of smarts. The author of these quotes was experiencing a financial life, an intellectual life, an emotional life, and a spiritual life that may be higher than any of us will ever experience. I imagine that it would have been difficult to see lack in his life. He must have been attractive as a leader, and easy to trust with decision-making. But even THAT guy knew a secret.
Left to our own thinking and our own emotions, we have the propensity to be...
The Drama Triangle occurs in unconscious and toxic work environments. It is the relationship dynamic in which one person plays the role of Victim, another the Villain, and the third the Hero. Giving up your need to be right, authentically feeling and expressing your feelings, and separating facts from stories is the way to do your part to stay out of the Drama Triangle and remain in a state of conscious leadership.
But even when you are clear of the drama, you may also be expressing one of the following personas that is not serving you well as a conscious professional.
Here is a list of personas active in the workplace. They are not necessarily negative but, take a look and see if any describe you.
Workplace Personas (Source: Conscious Leadership Group)
When I consider all that has made my life purposeful, Sometimes I think it is ironic how things started.
The diagnosis was pneumonia.
It appeared my life would be over not long after it began. I had pneumonia three times before the age of one, each occurrence worse than the one before it. On the third occasion, as I laid in a hospital crib with a spiking fever, the doctors told my parents I might not last through the weekend. I am told, it’s no wonder they would offer this prognosis given what they could see from my history and what could be observed at the time.
My mother was determined to expect more. She wasn’t willing to accept that my life was meant to be spent in hospital beds. She broke away from the conventional medical wisdom of the day and found Glen Hesse, an amazing man and an incredible chiropractor. With his care my compromised immune system was restored and I was on my way in life.
My reason for sharing this is not...
I have come to know the importance of acknowledging your strengths. I also believe in celebrating what is right. But I find it interesting how our culture has developed a keen disconnection to reality.
If I was properly following the “Facebook Guide to Life”, I wouldn’t share this message. I wouldn’t tell you that I really blow it sometimes as the leader of my family and my kids aren’t perfect. I am learning to despise in-authenticity. Mostly because I understand that unacknowledged blind spots have real consequences.
A few years ago the following took place.
My mother-in-law’s house sits in an oak forest in northwest Arkansas. The oaks are a vital feature of the landscape and ecology and provide a beautiful habitat. They also provide leaves which are in constant need of being raked. My boys got that job during our visit and they were doing just fine until I decided to help them. That’s when the teachable...
If you live in the Seattle area, and someone asks you how you like living there, the socially acceptable response is to say that it is miserable because it rains all the time. The reason: it is an amazing place to live with endless cultural experiences and possibilities for outdoor enthusiasts and area residents are not fond of crowds.
My family has lived in Upstate South Carolina, and so far, I am safe to tell you that we absolutely LOVE it – more all the time. One contributing factor is the DuPont State Recreational Forest which is a short drive from our house. DuPont’s 10,473-acres are a mountain biking Mecca with multiple waterfalls that have been the backdrop for several movie scenes. It is a wildly popular destination so, if you ever visit, avoid the visitor’s center parking area and go instead to the Fawn Lake parking area on Reasonover Road.
The park has 86 miles of trails which are differentiated similar snow skiing runs. Easy are...
Recently, I heard of a business owner who has a business that opened in the past six months. The product he sells has people lined up out the door during many of his operating hours.
As I write this message his income is enviable, and he enjoys gong to and from in a big fancy vehicle. He is literally and figuratively on quite a ride.
Only one problem, he is totally unaware that he is heading for a collision. Oh, there are warning signs- enough of them for an aware person to make simple course corrections and avoid the eminent disaster. Staff are walking off the job mid shift. Even though the space is newly remodeled, it is often left uncleaned from one day to the next. Questions from front line staff to management typically go unanswered for days. The busier things get, service becomes noticeably less customer-friendly, etc., etc.
However, each of these issues and others like them are only symptoms of the real problem. The real problem is that the...