1) "it's okay".
i was out in public the other day and had no choice but to listen to a mother try to calm her screaming baby down. "shhhhhh, it's okay", she said, "don't cry".
somehow, in this random brain of mine, i started thinking about how you and i often comfort our friends.
sometimes, our friends need to talk. other times, they need a distraction. some fun. laughter, you name it.
but sometimes, just sometimes, they may need to cry. and that's okay.
i find that our natural reaction to someone crying can be harmful at times; we, like that mom and her baby [which, i acknowledge, is a totally different story], are quick to try and stop our friends from crying, and do anything we can to 'cheer them up'. "it could be worse" we say. "you have so much to be thankful for".
while statements such as the above are true, they can be quite damaging.
next time your friend needs you, try and gauge what it is they actually need, and do your best to help them accordingly.
2) monkey see - monkey do.
my team and i were enjoying a lovely breakfast on a hot summer's day in malawi a few summers a go when my eyes were drawn to the rustling i overheard coming from a tree near by. to my surprise, a monkey climbed down the tree, jumped on a table next to me and stole a piece of toast out of the hand of a fellow traveler. i clinched my toast and laughed. seconds later, a second monkey came down, jumped on the same table, only to leave with some jam. "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?", i thought. "if that third monkey comes down and grabs a knife, i'm going to die" [of laughter that is, not from a monkey stabbing].
this whole experience baffled me for years until my friend reminded me of the familiar saying, "monkey see - monkey do" the other night. those monkeys had been up in that tree watching us humans lather our toast with strawberry jam, and expected nothing less for their breakfast.
and somehow, in this random brain of mine, i linked this whole thing to leadership.
those you lead don't listen to what you say, they watch what you do.
i can't tell you the amount of times that i've been told to do something, only to have the one who told me to do it turn around and do the complete opposite, leaving me feeling confused and wondering whether or not i could trust them as my leader.
the truth is, we've all been there.
your boss stresses the importance of showing up to work on time, and comes in 20 minutes late each day himself.
your mom tells you to hang up your jacket, but throws hers on the kitchen chair when she gets home from work.
your prof emphasizes deadlines, and yet hands your paper back three months after you handed it in.
you get the picture.
truth be told, true leadership isn't proven in one's ability to 'talk the talk', but in their ability to 'walk the walk'.
because, well, monkey see - monkey do.