Last night right before I went to bed, I learned about the shooting deaths of 3 more police officers – this time in Baton Rouge. It is heart-breaking and tempting to feel helpless, as angry people continue to destroy lives and rock our world with bombings, shootings, and even trucks.
This time felt even more personal, as I used to live in Baton Rouge and drove and worked where the shooting took place. And in the time I was there, I fell deeply in love with the people, the city and the state of Louisiana.
I woke early this morning and immediately checked the news for updates and prayed.
A short time later, I was reminded that exactly three years ago today I posted an article about pain and anger as I tried to process the Trevon Martin case.
- Three more years of conflict.
- Three more years of finger pointing and blaming.
Clearly – What we’re doing isn’t working, as the conflicts are becoming more frequent and more violent.
I’ve been working with a group of pre and early teens and we’ve been talking about perceptions and reality. In our last meeting, I asked if they have ever greeted someone and not been greeted in return. Emphatically – yes!
So I broke them up into small groups and asked them to come up with a list of at least 15 reasons why someone they greeted would not respond.
At first they listed things like this:
- They hate me
- They are mean
- They are rude
- They are a bully
- They are racist
It took awhile for them to start coming up with reasons like this:
When my husband said we were asked to move to a giant sandbox on the other side of the world my stomach churned so hard I had to sit down.
How was this possible? We said we would go ANYWHERE in the world except – THERE! Scenes from movies and the news melded with my own fears and questions were fired off so rapidly my husband could not reply.
A “yes” wasn’t possible if I could not change my thinking:
- From the losses to the possible gains.
- From the challenges to the possible opportunities.
- From fear to faith.
Have you got a list of values that you hold so dearly, that they actually define who you are?
And I used to really struggle with those that didn’t share those values.
As a child, I would passionately argue my convictions and not listen to those that did not share my opinions. (Because they were simply wrong!)
As a young professional, I thought it was horribly rude for people to roll their eyes in disagreement – but the shaking of my head as others spoke – screamed how wrong they were. (And how unwilling I was to listen.)
Hi! My name is Chery, and I am a recovering opinionista! (…Emphasis on recovering.) Somewhere along the way, I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror, and I didn’t like what I saw.
So I began to listen more and talk less. (Not because I didn’t have opinions, but because I didn’t know how to share them and really listen.)
Along the way I heard personal stories from people who had opposing views about some of the values that I hold most dear. And I began to really consider what it was like to walk in their shoes and even wonder if I’d experienced what they had, if I would hold those same views.
In most cases, my convictions did not change, but my understanding, compassion and creativity increased:
For years I’ve been asking executives and hiring managers what their biggest challenge is. At least 90% of the time I get the same answer: “People.” That comment is quickly followed by an explanation about how hard it is to find enough qualified and caring people to do the work.
It is interesting to note that some titled leaders are so desperate for people that they hire anyone that can “fog a mirror” which often results in skill gaps and behavioral issues that can damage their culture and reputation and stunt their growth.
Other titled leaders hold so tightly to a specific checklist of requirements that they miss hiring a stronger applicant that has the passion, drive and emotional intelligence to take their department and organization to the next level.
Often their decision to wait a long time to fill a needed position adds stress to their teams, and doesn’t guarantee a cultural fit, the drive or the fresh perspective that instigate growth.
If your organization is struggling to find smart, caring, committed people that will improve your culture, your service and your reputation then consider this.