A Values-Based Approach to Living- Part 3: Respect, Altruism & Kindness
Today is Part III of my series on A Values-Based Approach to Living. In this post, I focus on respect, altruism and kindness. You can read Part I here and Part II here! Part IV will be published this Friday. I hope you enjoy this next edition!
When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you. — Lao Tzu
Living with integrity means adhering to strong morals — like treating individuals who are worthy of respect, with respect. Of most importance, however, is to treat yourself with respect. If you can’t respect yourself, you will never be able to truly respect someone else. Envy, fear and self-doubt will threaten to dominate your thoughts and that will lead to a clouded, unsure conscience.
As I’ve gone through my career and examined my personal relationships, I’ve realized the importance of respect. I’ve seen the way it’s doled out. All of us, even the introverts among us, crave respect and outward recognition. Perhaps above anything else, we simply want to feel acknowledged and appreciated by our peers.
Respect leads to confidence, which fuels the engine that is our mind. While I pride myself on behaving in a way true to myself, even independent of my environment, I acknowledge that I carry myself with more confidence when I feel respected by my peers.
I’ve experienced dips of self-esteem and drops in confidence at times, which have led to self-doubt, anxiety and fear. I’ve also lived high above the clouds, full of confidence and joy for life.
While the ebbs and flows of emotion come and go, we can ride high on the qualities that the most emotionally intelligent minds covet and espouse: confidence and respect.
There is no respect for others without humility in one’s self. — Henri Frederic Amiel
I believe that true respect is earned. While I think we should acknowledge and treat everyone with dignity, I view respect differently. If you treat me or my loved ones poorly or do something grave to harm them, I will not respect you. Respect begets a desire for altruism and true love for one another. Respect, at its zenith, is a remarkable demonstration of care, kindness, friendship and love.
Respect is always genuine. Admiration is a form of respect for one’s craft or the way one carries themselves. When I think of how respect has shown itself in my life, I think of self-respect and class. I think of how some of the people I have respected most have carried themselves.
My parents, my Grandmother, brothers and my wife. These are all people I hold in high esteem, not just because I love them, but because of the way they treat others. I think of athletes like the great, Mariano Rivera. People who carry themselves with such an unmistakable class and grace — that it gives you the chills.
I think of love, dedication and reverence for values and ideals that I hold dear: my faith, family, where I come from and my experiences. I have profound respect for those who came before me that represent the objective qualities and values that comprise this multi-part series. These are the people who set the bar for all of us mere mortals.
Altruism is defined as, “the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others.” In other words, it’s the antithesis of egoism. I could have chosen the word, unselfish, I suppose, but what I love about altruism is that it’s a devotion to the well-being of other people. That takes concentration, deep thought and effort.
Altruism leads to friendship. Friendship enriches our lives, educates us, teaches us to trust, to care and stimulates our emotions. Friendship provides us with people who endeavor to make our lives better by caring for us, celebrating with us and supporting us through difficult times. True friendship is guided by altruism and kindness toward another.
When I think of altruism, I also think of sacrifice. I think of one of the most touching examples of selfless love — the ultimate sacrifice — I’ve ever read in this world.
Welles Crowther was working for the firm, Sandler O’Neill and Partners in the South Tower of the World Trade Center, in lower Manhattan, on the morning of September 11, 2001. Only 24 years old, Crowther was loving and bold well beyond his years.
When a plane struck the building Crowther was working in that fateful morning, he didn’t think selfishly of how to save himself. He first called his mother to let her know that he was OK. Then, he moved with the type of courage reserved for only the greatest of heroes, sprinting into action to save the lives of people he didn’t even know.
Crowther saved the lives of as many as 18 people on the morning of September 11th. I encourage you to watch the video, linked to in my previous sentence. It should be required viewing for every student and professional in the workplace. If only a few more of us in society would live their lives with such devotion and love for their fellow man, the world would be a greater place.
Crowther died while giving his life for his fellow New Yorkers — his fellow Americans. He couldn’t have possibly predicted when he woke up that beautiful, late summer morning, that he would have faced the most challenging moment of his life. He acted with fearlessness, valor and otherworldly courage to give up his life in order to save the lives of others.
In life, there’s always room to redefine the perceptions of who we are — even the words we use everyday. That day, Welles Crowther redefined the word altruism. Now, at least for me, that word has a picture of him next to it in the dictionary.
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” — Mark Twain
A few months ago, I attended a training course offered by my company. The course focused on the successful facilitation of leadership workshops. At the beginning of the training, the two course instructors reviewed the “rules of the road” for the course.
Toward the end of the rules, one of the instructors made sure to mention something so simple, yet oddly necessary. He said that one of the key points at the start of each facilitation is the choice to say two simple words, “Be Kind.”
The reason for this, he went on to add, was that in previous courses that he moderated, an occasional lack of civility reigned. Negative attitudes, as well as pride and ego got in the way, engendering an environment of dissension and defensiveness. He felt it important to usher in the saying, “Be Kind,” if for no other reason, than to make grown-ups look foolish.
But also for common decency.
Why in the world would we not treat one another with kindness?
The world we create around us is boundless and infinite when we are kind; when we put others first. It’s a way of life I’ve sought more and more as I’ve grown as a person and matured into a more experienced businessman. I’ve carried that approach over into my personal life.
I generously tip at restaurants. I smile, open up doors for people and do the “little things” that hopefully leave people feeling a little bit better about their day. It’s amazing how much better I feel because of it. Of course, that’s not why I do it! But it’s a wonderful value-added bonus.
In fact, when I’m not doing kind things for others, I notice that I’m less happy. Honestly, I feel like garbage. My intuition and internal emotions are off kilter and I’ve become self-aware enough to realize and process this more quickly.
The age-old saying, “It is better to give than to receive,” is an adage that teaches us the blessings of generosity, thoughtfulness and kindness. The point is, when we desire to help others and aim to make the lives of others more enriching and — simply — happier, we are embracing a life of love.
By choosing to love those around us, we make the world a better place. We becoming the living embodiment of The Golden Rule.
Kindness is the most underrated of all values. I say this because, it’s so easy to push our interests, motives and pursuits first rather than focusing on our family, friends or better yet, even, perfect strangers. What I’ve learned — and hopefully passed on to you — is that life is much richer, much bolder, when we learn and choose to put others first.
By treating others with respect and kindness, you earn respect in return.
More to Come!
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