by Andrea Chilcote
Recently I had a fascinating discussion with a client. He and I have, it would appear on the surface, a very different worldview. He’s very clear and open about his perspectives, and quite committed to the principles they represent. Many of our spiritual, political and social beliefs differ widely, yet I have always felt comfortable as he discusses them. Today, I realized why. And, I learned that we share at least one common – and in my opinion important – viewpoint.
What I learned is that he possesses the ability to suspend judgment of others at the same time he takes a stand about his own life and what he believes will make for a better world. At the same time he firmly believes in his heart and mind that something is “right” or “wrong,” he appears to have no desire whatsoever to condemn or coerce. A rare quality in one so convinced.
As a leader, one of the things this client strives to build in others is authenticity. He believes that those on his team are at their best when they show up and reveal who they really are. It’s an admirable aspiration, and not always one people find easy to practice in the workplace today.
As tends to happen, the brief conversation led me to broader mental analysis. Clarity of our convictions and values, along with the congruence of “walking the talk,” is one of the things that makes us appear trustworthy in interpersonal relationships. Yet another component of trust is the ability to genuinely make others feel safe – safe to express themselves and their views, safe to contribute creatively without fear of ridicule or persecution. And that can’t happen when judgment is present.
There’s an obvious link between the suspension of judgment and the freedom of others to be who they are. If you believe, as I do, that most of us have positive intent and are fundamentally loving and compassionate creatures, being “who we are” is a supreme opportunity. In fact, in practice it might just change the world.
So back to the view my client and I share. We both strive to understand as well as allow the paths those around us choose. What he has more fully mastered (and I strive for daily) is the ability to love others even in light of what he might view as a flaw (or even a sin). If that sounds corny or trite, forgive me, as I do not have other words for it.
When I feel criticized, I am usually guilty of the same. Imagine what would happen if, when we feel judged or even persecuted for our views, we allow those around us to be as they are and we simply walk in our own integrity. Imagine that.