There are three cornerstones that once put into action will set anyone on the path to pursuing goodness and making a lasting impact. Truth, compassion, and wholeness are concepts that can be made more accessible by conceptualizing each one as the combination of specific mindset, practice, and action values.
For example, what is the right mindset for truth? What values help us better practice that truth each day? And ultimately how does truth manifest itself in the way we act? Let's dive deeper into what each concept means and how you can use them in a professional setting.
Truth is our foundation, and humility, self-awareness, and integrity are the mind-set, practice, and action values of truth. If we aren't true to ourselves and true to others, our foundation is hollow. It is our honesty and congruency across all our thoughts and actions, and it is our authenticity, consistency, and credibility.
When we think about the experiences of our everyday lives, such as shopping for a particular brand or frequenting a particular restaurant, our decisions are driven by a set of consistent expectations about what we're going to get. The same is true of the leaders we admire. Today, there's widespread focus on how to best increase employee engagement, but truth still flows from the top; people trust their leader if she is true to herself and true to others. To be truthful, we must be consistent in our words, actions, and values.
- Truth begins with the right mind-set--that is to say, a predisposition that allows for the expression of truth. The mind-set value of truth is humility. Humility requires that we acknowledge that we are often far from perfect, and that now and again even the best of us veer off course.
- The practice of self-awareness, the second value of truth, is key to leadership success. It is the intellectual honesty to understand your strengths, your weaknesses, and the biases that influence your decision making. We need to have objective standards we aspire toward. The right mind-set, practice, and actions allow us to aspire to our full potential in a way that makes us satisfied that we did our best.
- With the mind-set of humility and the practice of self-awareness, there is the opportunity to act with integrity--to behave consistently so that there is congruency between our actions, thoughts, and feelings. Integrity is the third value in the truth level. It is the ultimate act and expression of our truth and our character.
One paragon of humility and self-awareness is Frank Blake, the retired chairman and former CEO of Home Depot. He once explained to his board why he might not be the right person for his job. After all, his experience in retail was minimal. While he may have been less competent than others at the outset of his eight-year tenure, Blake's humility and self-awareness were integral to his successful leadership of the chain.
Compassion is about selflessness made possible through the understanding of others; it is composed of the mind-set, practice, and action values of openness, empathy, and generosity.
Openness is a mind-set. It is about reducing bias and expanding our viewpoints.
The practice of empathy describes our ability to see and feel ourselves in other people's shoes. We practice empathy by developing better listening skills, for example.
Generosity is compassion in action, and it denotes our willingness to act upon the empathy we feel. It can be as simple as giving a person a hug, advocating for a colleague, or volunteering for a cause--but in all cases, generosity translates the compassion values into tangible actions.
By being open in our mind-sets, empathetic in our practices, and generous in our actions, we can attain a state where we care enough to act with generosity.
Love, respect, and wisdom are the mind-set, practice, and action values of wholeness. If compassion engenders caring, then wholeness allows us to feel satisfaction and gratitude for the people around us.
Love, the mind-set of wholeness, elevates the conditional care of compassion to the unconditional. It is more than practicing generosity toward others in given situations. Instead, it is about attaining the permanent mind-set that our own satisfaction and ultimate fulfillment results from supporting the fulfillment and success of others.
It is imperative that we practice goodness not only when we are asked or tested but whenever we have the opportunity to do so. To do so, we practice respect. Respect is not about obedience or submissiveness; it's about fulfilling our commitments and understanding our responsibilities and obligations to one another.
Then, when we act with wisdom, we demonstrate good judgment with regard both to the people with whom we associate and to the balanced decisions we need to make, knowing and accepting the things we can and cannot control.
When you're trying to gain a sense of why you feel the way you do about another person or when you want to gain perspective on how you might improve a situation, consider truth, compassion, and wholeness as an entry point into assessing and understanding the problem in front of you. We are all born with the capacity to be and do more in each of these three categories--to be more truthful, more compassionate, and more whole-- while influencing others to do the same.