Practice Forgiveness
Illustration by Eric Jackson

Have you heard of The Golden Rule? It’s common English phrasing is:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The Golden Rule, the ethic of reciprocity, is found in all cultures whose legacies and achievements are remembered and celebrated.

And, so it is with businesses whose mission and purpose is to better the lives of all of their stakeholders: employees, customers, partners and vendors, and investors. As a matter of fact, is there a better rule to create a lasting culture, a culture of recognition and engagement, a cash-flow positive culture than The Golden Rule?

In today’s turbulent, fast-paced, disruptive competitive marketplace, change is the common denominator. With change comes mistakes. Those mistakes may only be of the “what-worked-yesterday-doesn’t-work-today” variety. They may also be of the “I-haven’t-made-that-clear-have-I” variety. Whether you answered “yes” or “no” above, you will still find ample opportunities to honor the ethic of reciprocity and strengthen your skills in forgiving.

Since I’m writing about the bottom line, and I’m a big fan of connecting actions to bottom-line results, you have two choices on how you spend your time here.

1. Use the mistakes and failures in your work day to forgive and from that act connect, learn, grow, engage.
2. Prepare to spend more time firing, hiring, firing, hiring and watching your competition leave you behind.

This is not forgive and forget. This is forgive and connect, forgive and engage, forgive and learn.

A culture of learners is a culture of leaders. Gary Harpst, author of The Six Disciplines for Excellence, shared that insight. He’s right. A culture of learners is a culture of leaders. Mistakes offer the best curricula with the highest ROI when its material is mastered.

You can start by recognizing your own mistakes. Ouch. I know, it’s painful and scary to even think about. Consider this: There are two ways to build trust. One is to never betray it. The second way is to feed it regularly. Sharing your mistakes is one way to do that.

Employee recognition isn’t all cookies and milk, handing out awards in the newly minted tradition of Every child deserves a trophy. You’re recognizing employees for their contributions; some will be mistakes and their learning opportunities.

The irony (mistake?) of too many “employee engagement” and employee recognition programs is that the simplest steps are available every day, including all the materials and time. There’s no classes needed, no written materials to prepare or read, no videos to watch. The steps we can take are part of our nature we somehow forget or overlook or just find inconvenient when our vision becomes short-sighted.

Forgive and learn. Forgive and learn and find your leaders. They’re all around. You just have to let them know that it’s OK to step up, even if they stumble on that first step; even if you stumble on that first step.

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