Everyone, including you, is worthy of compassion.

What is self-compassion?

Take a moment and reflect on the following two questions.

  1. Think about those times when you’ve had a close friend who is struggling and/or suffering in some way.
  2. How do you typically respond to your friend?
  3. What do you say?
  4. What time do you devote?
  5. How were your posture and non-verbal gestures?

Write down some of the things you discovered.

  1. Now think about various times when youwere struggling and/or suffering in some way.
  2. How do you typically respond to yourself in these situations?
  3. What do you say?
  4. What time do you devote?
  5. How were your posture and non-verbal gestures?

Write down some of the things you discovered.

Compare the two lists.

Self-compassion means being a good friend to yourself as well as others.  Simply put, self-compassion is treating ourselves with the same kindness as we would treat a friend in trouble.

Compassion is a state of mind that is open, abundant and inclusive.  Compassion manifests as the offering of kindness to ourselves and others.

The Buddha said that if we truly loved ourselves we would never harm another, because if we harm another it is in some way diminishing who we are; it is taking away from, rather than adding to, our lives. (Sharon Salzberg: The Kindness Handbook)

Dr Kristen Neff describes self-compassion as having three main components:

  • self-kindness versus self-judgment,
  • a sense of common humanity versus isolation, and
  • mindfulness versus over-identification.

She writes:

Self-kindness versus self-judgment. Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.  Self-compassionate people tend to be gentle with themselves when confronted with painful experiences rather than getting angry when life falls short of set ideals.

Common humanity versus isolation.  Frustration at not having things exactly as we want is often accompanied by an irrational but pervasive sense of isolation—as if “I” were the only person suffering or making mistakes.  All humans suffer.  Therefore, self-compassion involves recognising that suffering and personal inadequacy are part of something we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone.

Mindfulness versus over-identification. Self-compassion also requires the willingness to observe our negative thoughts and emotions with openness and clarity, so that they are held in mindful awareness.  Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive state of mind in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them.  We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time.

The development of greater self-compassion, through the cultivation of mindful awareness and loving kindness, is the way we can come up against life’s inevitable frustrations, mistakes and disappointments, love ourselves anyway, and keep moving toward growth and change.

 

Sometimes we just need to do the best we can!

A Brand Old Leadership Model

Who amongst us has not cheated?  Larry says, ‘not me’; but I’ve played golf with Larry, and there’s always a “preferred lie”!

Make no mistake – we are in a leadership crisis.  I know that sounds dramatic, pessimistic, fatalist even; I don’t want it to be but there it is.

Our toxic leaders are casting a broad shadow.  We say we loathe their behaviour and yet there they are, and here we are, still.

Why do we follow corrosive bosses and tolerate dishonest politicians?  Why do so many destructive and greedy business leaders gain and hold so much power?  What sort of culture do we have that promotes dishonest behaviour?

Who’s advising our leaders of the fact they are alienating all but those who are in their image?  Who of us will risk standing away from the group to do the right thing early and with compassion?

Who of us is brave enough to provide honest feedback to temper contemptuous behaviour, set boundaries on the loud, overbearing colleague?  …I don’t mean after a critical incident where our own self-righteousness becomes the devil incarnate or on social media where shaming is safely hidden at arm’s length – that’s the coward’s way.

Why do we place into leadership roles people who are not yet ready to apply the wisdom of cause and effect, not yet able to understand that improving the performance of their mind is now what counts most?  Why do we then abandon the poor souls – when they make the error even Blind Freddy could have seen coming – to solitude and shame?  We ask for nothing more than mediocrity and when it’s delivered with a powerful sting we feel offended.

The challenges we have in 2018 are growing in importance and urgency.   How will we choose to define ourselves?  Will we choose to be a nation intent on growing our minds, opening our hearts and doors, showing forgiveness?

Will we have the courage so desperately needed to drop our craving for significance, wealth and fame and help shape our future leaders, and ourselves, in the noble arts of focused discipline, ethical achievement, generosity of spirit, kindness and gratitude?

We need to reach out with compassion.  We need to get off our high horses and be the better standard ourselves; stop cheating ‘at golf’, at life, and then castigating others with impunity.

These ‘boys’ have done no more or less than what we’ve allowed in this country.  Was this really sport’s darkest day?

Leadership and Likeability

Contrary to conventional wisdom, likeability is high on the scale of importance for successful leaders.

Likeability is a genuine kindness and compassion for others that comes wholly from within and extends indiscriminately without.  It is generous in its offering and profoundly felt when received.

Leadership needs positive intent.  It is more than people merely getting along with one another, being pleasant and ‘nice’ and avoiding conflict.  Every interaction and conversation had by a direct supervisor or manager is an opportunity to stretch beyond the basics. 

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