Cultivating Conscious Compassion
An acquaintance of mine told me a story about his father who had fallen to the ground on a busy street because he could not see the curb. His father struggled to get up and was covered with scratches on his head and arms. The amazing thing about this incident is thatnot one personstopped to help him stand up again. I was astonished to hear this.
Definition of compassion: A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
The opposite is indifference or mercilessness.
Was I meeting people where they were? Was I observant of their behavior or was I just passing by too quickly? Could I stay with someone until they gained their inner strength? Did I exhibit empathy?
We can look at society today and quickly observe both sympathy and indifference in human interactions in the world. Yet, the majority of people say that humanity is losing sight of genuine compassion for others. There is a rise in violent behavior, abuse, bullying and mean spirit actions toward people in our culture.
Is compassion a leadership trait?
Compassion is most definitely a leadership trait, and it can be learned. One might say that “compassion is feelings in action.” Compassion changes environments and influences people in a variety of profound ways. It can move individuals to reach deeper into their soul to help others and be helped themselves. This kind of compassion tends to develop a human being’s highest potential and increased self awareness.
According to author, Lionel Valdellon, compassion isn’t a “soft” leadership skill. It is a crucial power skill. He makes several compelling statements about how compassion can positively influence our environment and the people in it in powerful ways:
Compassion isn’t just about being nice; it’s concern for the well-being of another person. It’s a decision – an action – to nurture others to reach their full potential.
Compassionate leadership nurtures innovation. In other words, when you lead with compassion, you invest time into people and set them on a path for success. You support their growth and clear their path of obstacles .
This kind of compassionate leadership strengthens and mentors others. It provides stability and psychological safety, very real ingredients for a healthy working environment. Compassionate leadership is necessary for growing people into leaders themselves.
To impact culture, I believe we need to start with children to empower the leadership trait of compassion. Adults we should engage with children to nurture this highly powerful leadership skill. Parents need to engage kids to use their heart-muscle – what I refer to as nurturing the heart’s emotions, of which compassion is a major component. Our humanity is calling out for positive emotions, such as compassion, to move people and to touch their hearts. We all need to develop caring qualities in ourselves and in each other. We need to teach kids how to respond to issues of compassion at an earlier age.
We are moving closer to genuine compassion in our lives and culture by enriching a child’s real life connections to their friends. Parents and teachers can encourage them to reach out to their neighborhood and community with kindness, observation, caring and listening to the needs of others. They can learn how to respond and give of themselves through respect and dignity in their relationships.