Love is a complex topic covered by so many poems, books, movies and stories. No doubt an intrinsic part of our human life no matter what job, profession or business we have. There will always be a big focus on our loved ones when it comes to our priority list for time and resources. It could be your husband or wife and kids, it could be your parents, your friends or even your dog but we all love and like to be loved.
When it comes to coaching and of course improvement goals, it is not uncommon to reflect on “What do I really love?” and “What am I passionate about?” We look for that because it gives us a clear purpose, it gives us the value behind the goal. “Who are we really doing these things for?”
When I start my coaching processes sometimes, I ask executives, “What is your life about? What is the purpose?” And it is not uncommon to get an answer completely unrelated to work: “it is about giving the best to my family and making them happy.”
And I cannot help to think as a coach, on how about if we apply known skills, knowledge and even purpose to a different context. What about if we think about people at work as our family? Not the superficial concept of leaders saying, “we are all family here”, but a deeper reflection on how everybody else in the office or in our business is part of a family deserving the best and looking to get happiness and to take it home.
In Buddhism there is a great trick to change our mindset. It immediately changes our perspective and also the ways in which we feel and express our love for others. It is simple, it is just to think that every person could be our mother. I am sure there are traumatic experiences for some people with a really bad mother, but for the most part even if they were bad, we would have not survived without them. Humans are so fragile as newborns and if not for the care of our mothers we would not make it. That brings a deep sense of gratitude and love to a human being that basically helped us to start life and survive a tough beginning. You don’t even have to go to all the well-known sacrifices of mothers, just the fact that a person helped you when you were not able to eat by yourself, clean by yourself, or soothe by yourself, to me is a major thing that creates a deep sense of gratitude.
I have practiced this technique for many years to generate compassion and I can intentionally flip a switch in my mind when I am in front of a difficult person, or a person I usually would not care about, but instead intentionally think “what if this person would be my mother (or father)?, what if I would be her or his son?. Or even without putting myself in the equation, what about the love that this person gives and gets by being a mother or a father.
I might be imagining, but I can almost feel my neurons rewiring from indifference or rejection to attraction and love for that person.
Maybe you are asking, “Nice for Valentine’s month, but how do I take this to my leadership or personal development? well, let me give you my 3 reflections in love that you can apply to your leadership:
- Love is conflict. Managers and leaders dread conflict, it is one of the big areas for development: facing and managing conflict. Maybe it would help you to remember that love is conflict, you have discussions and arguments with your loved ones, but at the end of the day love prevails and you realize that conflict is there because we care. Then stop avoiding conflict and approach it with love, it will create growth in your team.
- Love is empathy. Another big area when we work with executives in an organization is cultivating the emotional skill of empathy. Our ability to really put ourselves in another person’s shoes, not only intellectually but emotionally. When we care, it is easier to “feel with that person”, understand situations and generate a sense of compassion.
- Love is a decision. If you want to learn about love, the best book I have ever read on the topic is “The Art of Loving” by Erich Fromm. I read it as a teenager and I can tell you that I don’t remember the details, but I can summarize it in, real love is your decision to care for another human being regardless of how he or she cares for you. It is not a transaction, it is not reciprocity, it is your commitment to give, pure altruism. And if there is anything the enlightened masters of all religions and times have in common, it is their full altruism of giving themselves, in all senses, for the benefit of others. Wouldn’t it be nice if leaders would be there for their teams, giving themselves to the development of their people no matter what?
As an expert on Leadership Acceleration, I can tell you this technique is sure to boost your leadership.