I have had an idea bouncing around in my head and my heart for quite some time. I just have not had the right inspiration or “AHA Moment” that put it all together for me. But reading another blog post, even though the subject matter was very different, finally got me there.
It is all about taking the high road. Going high is better for all of us because it builds sustainable organizations, cultures, and relationships. Think about internalizing this concept. It’s not just words. Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone were more intentional about the cultures we created?
“When they go low, we go high”
I have been bothered by our society’s distrust for everyone else. We no longer trust anyone. So we take the low road. We insult those who do not share our convictions or beliefs. We blame those not like us for all of our societal ills. We prefer to tear down rather than to build up. Trolling someone is way more “enjoyable” than looking for the good side.
The Low Road
How often do we find ourselves taking the low road? Calling someone stupid (or uneducated). Affixing a label on another person that is derogatory simply because they share different views. Deciding that I get to say or tweet or blog whatever I want to because I am “sick and tired of political correctness”. I am “empowered” to broadcast anonymously what I would never say in a respectful conversation – even when it is hurtful.
We are so ready to group people in exaggerated ways to build ourselves up. Have you ever insulted a person at work? I know I have. “They are just a bumbling bureaucrat who doesn’t care about our customers.” “He only got that job because he will do whatever the vice president tells him to do”.
I constantly hear people taking the low road with the younger generation that is collectively called “Millennials”. The Millennials do this or don’t do that. They are constantly on their phones. They can’t concentrate for more than two minutes at a time. Millennials just don’t get it when it requires to do hard work. Is everyone in that group so similar? Do they only have bad characteristics? Might their difference from you be the real issue? If you get a chance, listen for people talking about Millennials as if they were some mass-produced robots. Is it ever done in a positive way?
The High Road
I’ll start with a small modification on the question from the last section. How often do we find ourselves taking the high road? Do we look at a group and try to justify their actions based on positive actions? Do we reject labels? Do we recognize that people and institutions might have different viewpoints from us, and that is okay? Might someone else’s life experiences explain their differences from mine? How might someone or some group that has a totally different viewpoint on a subject help me to more fully understand a concept?
How often do you praise someone or some organization at work? Do you look at an organization or team at work saying to yourself, “That is not something I would like to do, but I am glad they are here to do it”? Might that boss or co-worker who drives you crazy have a lot more going on in their life that explains their behavior. Here is an interesting one: How do both the Democratic and Republican Parties help our society?
When in doubt, take the high road. There is less traffic
Sometimes I think it is harder to take the high road. It can sound childish or naive. Finding a good, plausible reason for someone else’s behavior can be really tough. It probably never gets a laugh like a witty put down does. Pundits have discovered that the high road “sells” much less frequently than the low road. But positivity breeds more positivity. Think about this: “Taking the high road is hard work – walking uphill takes strength and effort”. But it is worth it.