I get more and more agitated every time I hear about a new philanthropy giving millions of dollars to a needy cause. I’m tired of another heroic act of altruism by Bill Gates. I’m done with servant leadership.
Don’t get me wrong. I admire the heck out of Bill Gates, the Dali Lama, and Mother Teresa. And I try to focus every day on serving others. My problem is that these beacons of compassion have set the bar too high and created an unrealistic view of what compassion is. This is especially true in today’s complex workplace.
Leaders who practice self-less compassion are headed for burnout.
Compassion comes from the Latin root meaning “to suffer with.”
- alleviating suffering
- suffering instead of
- solving the problem for someone else
- taking over responsibility
- having sympathy
- giving til it hurts
- putting your needs on hold indefinitely
- becoming equally vulnerable and transparent
- honoring your own needs in order to stay healthy
- taking care of you so you show up ready to serve
- being available but not taking over
- leveraging their gifts as well as yours
- building capability and capacity, not dependence
- knowing your why, and sticking to it
- enforcing your boundaries
- holding others accountable too
Compassion is a two-way street that sees self and others as valuable, capable, and responsible. If you compromise any one of these three, drama might be just around the corner.
We need more role models that practice the full definition of compassion. Do you know any? Will you share in the comments?