Approximately 41% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions. Of those, just over nine-percent keep them. Gyms across the nation will be flooded with people determined to lose weight next week. Most will drop off by February. If you make a resolution for 2018, the odds are against you. That’s why I stopped making resolutions years ago.
There is still hope! Rather than making a resolution, commit to an ongoing journey to gradually change something about yourself. Having trouble figuring out what to change? That’s okay, I’m a step ahead of you. Decide to become a Dignity Giver.
Lori and I stayed up late last week to watch a Shark Tank rerun during our trip to Gatlinburg. The episode included a pitch from Allison DeVane. She founded a company called Teaspressa. Her dream is to do for organic tea brewing what Starbucks has done for coffee. Allison had a difficult pitch. But she was imaginative and driven. The sharks were concerned that Allison’s initial focus was not specific enough. I looked over at Lori and said that it was ironic to see venture capitalists, who work across dozens of industries, criticize someone for having more than one business idea.
The sharks made several valid criticisms of Allison’s business model. That’s expected. All of the sharks decided not to invest. Four of them encouraged Allison to keep building the business. Lori Greiner told Allison not to look at the pitch as a failure. Fellow shark Kevin O’ Leary predictably threw an insult into the conversation: “No, look at it as a failure.” Kevin has built a very successful brand as “Mr. Wonderful,” the Tank’s grinch. He knows how to build wealth. His Tank character lacks grace.
There were years in my life that O’Leary’s insults would not have grabbed my attention. At this point my life, I looked over at Lori and said that there is no reason that Allison should have walked out of the Tank with her dignity attacked. Disagreement with a business model or range of focus does not mean that someone is any less of a human being.
I have been working hard over the last few years to become a better person and leader. One of the most profound changes in my way of thinking has been the realization that because someone is incorrect does not mean that he or she is underserving of their dignity.
The term dignity is overused in modern discourse. Dignity is everywhere today. It reads like trendy boilerplate language in corporate talking points and press releases. As a term, dignity and respect is the modern-day version of its ancestor term “no tolerance policy.” That point was overused to death and begat the use of “dignity and respect” in its place. These words have power when used correctly.
For the purpose of this post, dignity has actual meaning. Webster defines dignity as “the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed.” I define it as recognizing someone’s natural worth. Even people I disagree with, or dislike, have worth.
Recognizing worth and bestowing dignity is hard. We humans are tribal creatures. Our emotional tendency is to run to our side of the spectrum when we encounter something or someone we dislike. Social media has made it even worse. We type things we would never say to someone’s face. We attack and defriend when someone dares to challenge our “innate intellectual superiority.”
I observed the tribal reaction early on from my dad. People he didn’t like were labeled “screwballs” to my brother and me. We did not want to be screwballs. I have struggled much the same. I have used terms like “that guy is a piece of garbage” myself. A couple of exceptionally unique individuals still fit into this category. But I’m working on acknowledging that even they have worth and are loved by someone.
We perpetuate this character defect in the way we sometimes treat children. The church I grew up in hosted a Saturday-morning breakfast for the men and women who ran the Sunday morning bus ministry. My mom frequently helped to serve the breakfast. I looked forward to going in with her each Saturday. One particular morning, I found a beach ball in the daycare play area, where the breakfast was held. I bounced it around, as many kids do. On the final bounce, it rebounded off the floor hard enough to reach the ceiling, knocking a ceiling tile out of place. It was a simple mistake that could have been fixed with a broom handle. An older gentlemen took the ball and spoke to me as if I were a bad kid, deliberately plotting mischief. To him, I wasn’t just a child who accidentally knocked a ceiling tile while at play. I was bad.
The fictional police Capt. Sharon Raydor in my favorite show Major Crimes said to her adopted son, in a season five episode, “you made a mistake. You did not do anything wrong.” That is the central core of giving dignity.
When we mess up, we automatically question our dignity and self worth. We fear. The best gift that we can receive in that moment is for someone to give us our dignity back. Even when someone takes an action that creates a problem, you can and should return their dignity. The words spoken in that moment can be life-changing.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
Becoming a Dignity Giver relieves stress, changes culture and makes you stand out. Giving dignity to others also expands your influence. It is the right thing to do ethically. It is also the smart thing to do for your personal brand.
Ditch the resolutions. Choose to start a life-path to giving dignity in 2018.
Copyright 2017 Chase Spears All Rights Reserved