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Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Lead By Example

June 4, 2014

First things first...I just realized that this is post 1,111!  Freaky!


I don't know whether I can call this a blessing or a curse, but as far back as I can remember, I've had lessons having to do with common sense and etiquette drilled into my head.  And, when you're growing up as a child, sometimes it's hard for us to understand why we follow these lessons in life.  In fact, I think that it's not until we hit adulthood that things really begin to sink in and we understand why we do them.

Some of them seem incredibly simple enough.  When you're walking with somebody else on the sidewalk and you see somebody else walking down the same sidewalk in the opposite direction, you walk in single file so that the other person can pass by you without having to sidestep onto the grass or the road.  When you're going through a door and someone else is directly behind you, you hold the door open for them.  When you're stopped at an intersection in your car, and you happen to see someone else waiting to cross at the crosswalk, you let the pedestrian cross first before you drive off.

These are all little things that anybody can do to show somebody else respect.  And, you know what?  In this open letter to everyone who might be reading this letter, I have to say that I'm a little bit annoyed at the total lack of respect that some people seem to have towards other people these days.  Forget about chivalry being dead.  In my experience, people seem to have completely forgotten how to show even the slightest amount of respect towards their peers, and I think it's a real crying shame.

I mean, you see these sorts of things all the time.  You see people so absorbed with their smartphones that they tune out everything and everyone around them.  You see people typing out insults and profanities on Facebook or Twitter to somebody else simply because you don't like what they post on their own pages.  Things like that are just plain rude and should never be tolerated under any circumstances whatsoever. 

But then again, I look at some of the instances of really bad behaviour that happens in public gathering spots, and I can't help but think of a phrase that somebody told me a long time ago.  And, it's a phrase that I have taken with me since I basically graduated high school.


Now, I'll be the first to admit that I haven't always been a believer in this phrase.  I think the first eighteen years of my life were such that I was not seen as a leader.  I honestly didn't even see MYSELF as a leader in anything.  I certainly had a difficult time understanding the concept of how respect actually worked.  I mean, I was always taught to respect my peers and my elders, always say please and thank you, and all that jazz.  But when you're a kid, and you're trying to get approval from the people you attend school with, only to get a complete lack of respect in return...well, let's just say that it took a lot of time for me to develop my own sense of self-respect.

Because let's face it.  I know I've said this before about the concept of love.  But if you can't respect yourself at the end of the day, then how in the world can you respect other people?  Seriously.  Just think about that question for a minute.  I don't mind.  I'm patient.

Okay, now that you've had a minute or two to think about self-respect, let us continue our discussion, shall we?

I think that in this world, we all owe it to ourselves to take a step back and determine whether or not we're actually being as respectful as we would like to be.  And, I think that we all have a responsibility to ourselves to lead by example in that regard.  If we show the world that we are capable of treating our fellow man or woman with dignity, compassion, kindness, and honour, then there's a really good chance of everybody paying it forward and leading the charge towards a more respectful school environment, workplace, and home life.

On the flipside, if you belittle people, make them feel stupid, and completely show an utter lack of respect towards them, do you really think that they're going to go around treating people kindly?  I mean, it's really a rehash of the whole nature vs. nurture theory (of which I am a firm believer on the side of nurture for that debate).

I can't begin to tell you how many times I cringe seeing how many families that I see come into the store I work at and seeing so many parents screaming at their kids to behave, and then buying them whatever they want whether they deserved them or not.  I tell you, if I had pitched a fit inside of a store when I was six, I would have been dragged back into the car and been promptly taken home - without anything that I wanted.  But of course, when you're working on the sales floor, you can't intervene unless the situation gets physical, and even then, you have to follow protocol to get the situation diffused.  It's so difficult for me to see this bad behaviour from both children and their parents.  I mean, if the child is too young to know better, fine.  But if your child is old enough to know better, it's no excuse. 

And, sorry to say's your job to set a good example for your own children.  It's not the cashier, sales floor associates, teachers, co-workers, or the guy who runs the 7-Eleven on the corner to discipline your children.  And, kids learn by example, you know.  I shudder to think of what one child must have been thinking when she saw her mother tear a strip off of one of my co-workers because of a simple price discrepancy.  I'm going to wager that this child is going to grow up showing her peers that same disrespect that she witnessed.   And, if I were a gambling man, I'd bet more than just a pretty penny on it.

Honestly, when I look at my experiences growing up, I was always taught to respect my family.  Oh, mind you, I had my screamfests and rousing choruses of "I HATE YOU"'s peppered throughout my childhood, but I never talked back for long without getting put in my place by my father. 

I should clarify that what I mean by "getting put in my place" is not by violence - well, aside from a couple of spankings, of course.  Not that I advocate spankings at all, mind you. 

But you know, just going back to my own experiences, the idea of respect was a foreign concept to me.  Not so much with family members, but with people who I got to know through school, or through any of the jobs that I have worked since I turned 17.  And, I don't really need to get into detail about school, because let's face it.  You've heard those stories before.

But what I will say is this.  Respect is not something that you can buy at any store.  You can't download it from iTunes (well, unless you purchase the song by Otis Redding or Aretha Franklin).  You can't even be given respect as a graduation gift or unwrap it with the twenty-seven toasters that you receive as wedding presents.  Respect is something that has to be earned.

Sometimes we all forget where we are, and sometimes we have a really bad day and snap at someone that we really don't mean to.  But it also takes a big man (or woman) to swallow their pride and own up to their mistakes.  Because as we all know, apologizing is a sign of respect.  Not weakness.  Respect.

And, I don't care what your age is, or how long you've been with a company, or whether you have brown eyes or blue eyes.  There's a lot of things in this world that I can not respect.

I don't respect people who think that their way is the only way, and refuse to take anyone else's opinions into consideration. 

I do respect people who uses collaborative efforts to try and make everyone feel like they are a part of a team.

I don't respect people who hang out in their own little cliques and exclude other people who don't fit in.

do respect people who are welcoming to other people and will hang out with them regardless of seniority, position, or other non-important details.

I don't respect people who give attitude to other people simply because they feel like they are entitled to do so.

do respect people who check their egos at the door and work with people in solving a problem.

I don't respect people who don't seem to realize that they were once beginners at something, and who faced scrutiny by more seasoned people (be it at a job, or on a sports team, or what have you) when they were starting out, and then turn around and criticize new people for everything under the sun.

I do respect people who know exactly what it was like to be a new person (at a job, or on a sports team, or what have you), and instead of criticizing new people, works with them, and mentors them to become better people.

I don't respect people who outright refuse to do work because they couldn't be bothered with doing it.

I do respect people who outright refuse to do work because the job is not safe.  I doubly respect people who will take the initiative to make the job safer.

I don't respect people who pass the buck onto other people because they couldn't be bothered to give a straight, honest answer.

I do respect people who at least try to come to a conclusion by working with their peers.  Maybe the conclusion can't be found, or maybe the person might not like the decision, but at least an effort being made is something.

And finally...

I do respect every single one of you for listening to my rants, raves, opinions, and thoughts over the past three years.  And, believe me.  All of you are winners in my book, and I respect the hell out of you for it. 

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