Some call it ‘the golden rule.’ Others see it as a Biblical command. Many people hold it as a basic moral principle. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, also known as “love your neighbor, as you love yourself.” These timeless principles seem to be a part of many of our various cultural narratives, however, we are living in a time where we seem surprised when someone consistently lives out the principle in their everyday life.
How can this be? A principle we’ve heard since we were in grade school, and yet we are amazed when we actually see it in action. I believe there are many reasons why we don’t live this principle in society and leadership, but the most significant reason of all has nothing to do with the external forces we might assume. I believe that most people live the golden rule, the problem is that, most people live the golden rule. The reason we are often disappointed with people who don’t leave us feeling ‘golden’ has everything to do with them.
From the time we were children, we were told all of the things that were broken, incorrect, dysfunctional and wrong with us as individuals (remember spelling tests?). Without healthy families and support systems to help us, there was no counter-argument to the self-doubt we picked up while living out our childhood sensibilities. The systems that we grew up in were not trained nor equipped to teach us all of the wonderful things that are actually right with us, and many of us never took the opportunity to enter a space to learn what makes us great, nor were we invited to that space. Therefore, we run into adults who for a myriad of reasons are living in a world where they do not like themselves. A bi-product of this epidemic of self-doubt and hate is the aforementioned ‘broken, incorrect, dysfunctional and wrong” treatment of our fellow human.
We can never live or lead in a way that uplifts humanity and allows us to go ‘further faster’ without an understanding and appreciation of who we are as individuals. I cannot love you well, until I love myself. I cannot do for you, until I’ve done to and for myself.
I’ve met some people who have done an analysis of themselves and have walked away celebrating and claiming their heaven-endowed gifts and talents. There are some common themes I have observed among those people:
- Recognize the wonder of their uniqueness. There is a sacred and never-shaken truth that suggests that all human beings were born unique and gifted in some fashion. These enlightened leaders and healers of our environments not only stand in humble awe of their own unique talents; they recognize, celebrate and stand in awe of other’s gifts as well.
- Keep ‘short accounts’ with themselves and others. Leaders who get the “as yourself” approach to leadership and life understand that happiness with yourself is directly connected to the health of the relationships you have with other people. These people understand the power of forgiveness. They don’t leave space in their relationships for petty grudges and eye for an eye justice. Moreover, they are mindful that all of life’s greatest challenges are to be met in concert with others. We can’t solve problems together if I am holding you and me hostage with unresolved issues.
- Drive with Love. Love is both the accelerator and the brake for people who seem to live the golden rule. They clearly understand that it takes a transcendent power like love to drive through all of our past and present hurts and challenges to a place of self-acceptance and appreciation. They also understand that it takes love to slow down and stop when life’s various off-ramps drive us to feel like diminishing ourselves and others. Love is in the driver’s seat, and believe me; love is DRIVING in all of the small interactions that make or break relationships.
I am attempting in my life to be a person who surprises people with my capacity to live an “as yourself” approach to life and leading. I am holding out hope that over time, living like we love who we are won’t be such a surprise.
Peace, Blessings and Love,