Posted here – on March 12th..

This is the hardest thing in life to do.  Every day it seems we are challenged with something that make use want to outburst, complain, get revenge, or just plain show hatred for.   I see it all the time, from people who you meet treating you not the way you want to be treated, someone at work not pulling their weight, to coaches not treating your kids right, it is all over the place.  I find myself in this situation, and in many cases have conversations about issues and what should we do?  I say a lot you need to be the better person.

But what do I mean by that?  As some situations is by not calling out bad behavior, or not making a statement, what you do is that you reinforce the behavior will get results.  One example I see coaches yelling at kids.  It may work in game one or two, but after the 10th time or so, kids start to tune it out.  The problem is that the person yelling is thinking, wow it happened last week, so it must be the right way to do it.  Am I not yelling loud enough, have I not set the right set of abuse?

The problem, is I don’t have an answer.  I don’t know when enough is enough.  At what point does a person hit the breaking point to where they say “I am tired of being the better person.”  I wish in may instances that it does not get to that point, but unfortunately it gets there a lot.  But as stated previously, the problem stems from the fact the behavior was reinforced as the right thing to do.

So I sit often, have sleepless night, and try to make sure that every morning and say did I do the right thing.  And try not to worry about being “wronged” or being taken advantage of.  The choice to try to be the better person does not come with its issues.  You are going to have to suck it up, and not worry about what lesson you wish someone would learn.  Your focus should be about how others see your actions and look to your as the better person.

I don’t know if it is possible to measure success of doing this, I don’t think there is a way you can say I earned 50 points today being the better person.  I can’t even guarantee you will be seen as a better leader or promoted for being a better person.  I only hope that it does get noticed, and that someone maybe not everyone but someone sees you for the values you adhere to, and then get rewarded for it.

One story I will relate, is work related.  Working in a large company, there are many divisions, some horizontal and others vertical.  Horizontal services try to make things better across a company.  But often, these services are not thought out well, and don’t work great for everyone.  I had to deal with many of them, and when ones don’t work, you have one of three choices.  First do you own thing and ignore the service, Second you can use it and bitch moan and complain to anyone but the owners of the service, and lastly you can become and change agent (company term) by helping the service grow from something that isn’t great, to something better.  Doing so means a lot, it mean not calling to complain, but calling to voice thoughts and improvements and working with the horizontal service.  The key is not to blame worry who’s fault it is, but how to make it better.  You must as the customer of the service but just that a good customer.   I have tried to do this often, and in a meeting with someone who decided to retire, he told me simply put “Our team loves working with you, you may challenge us, but its about finding solutions and not placing blame…”  I wish it was always that easy, and that every time I acted well, I would get a solution, but my response to this particular person, was your team was willing to help find the solutions, and it made my job easier.  It is a two way street, if two people are willing to both be the better person, great things can happen.  The reward here was getting something better done for our company, and at the end being recognized for it.  I didn’t think anyone noticed, and didn’t ask to be, I just wanted to do the right thing.

Another story has to do with clean energy.  About 3-4 years ago I got a letter from our Electric company, that we can pay a little more for money I could get 25% of my electricity from green sources.  So I signed up, the money was not too much, but I thought it was something I could do and would make a difference if everyone did.  I reached out to a few “complainers” who constantly post on Facebook crap about save the earth etc.  I asked if he was going to sign up.  The response “It is not my job, and why should I pay extra….” he then followed up with “the government should mandate it so all have to use it…..”  The thing is, he became the complainer, and was more upset everyone wasn’t forced to pay more.  He thought the government should do it.  I never understood if you talk to talk, you better walk the walk.  Although you can say yes it should be mandated, but until than if you believe its the right thing, and makes the world a better place, why not step in.  The better person would.

Being the better person does include:

  • Being cordial to everyone… even people you don’t like.
  • Taking the initiative to reach out to people, just to say hi, happy holiday etc.  Connections are the best thing you can gain.
  • Helping others that cannot help you.
  • Doing the right things, when people are not looking
  • Giving your best effort, even if the person you are working for/playing for does not have your respect.
  • Treat everyone with the same respect.  This means greeting the janitor the same way you would greet the CEO..
  • When someone does something wrong, you can acknowledge it, but don’t respond.  Walk away, or still do your best at whatever.
  • Doing things that are best for all, not just yourself.   This includes recycling, thinking about little things, and acting locally as best as you can. Don’t worry of others are not doing it, or waiting for someone else to do it.  By the time there is a big enough movement, often its too late.
  • Don’t be the complainer, be the person who does it.
  • Own up to your mistakes, and immediately have the conversation.  The longer you prolong something the worse it gets.
  • Finding reward in doing the right saying, saying the right thing.

I planned to write more, but I think the point is made.  If everyone did the right thing, the world would be a much better place.