Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you—not because they are nice, but because you are.
Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)
The small cafeteria at our workplace was abuzz with chatter. Colleagues sat in groups and the room was humming with conversation. That morning I felt I had little to contribute and opted to sit alone. Staring out the window, I was lost in troubled contemplation of recent loss, rough edges in my working relationships, and a nagging health issue, and I wondered when I would finally reach the proverbial end of the tunnel where the sun shines again.
Good listening takes effort. Notice the traits of the people whom you enjoy talking to, the good listeners. They show their interest with their eyes, posture, and the ways they react. It’s a sort of indescribable mood that says, I enjoy listening to you. You’re important to me. A calmness and patience about them tells you, Take your time. I have nothing more vital to do at the moment than to hear what you have to say.
I have a neighbor who is a very good handyman. A while ago, he did some work for us in the house but seemed to be very grouchy and out of sorts. When I tried to help or give a suggestion, he got frustrated and snapped back.
A good executive is not a boss—he is a servant! Jesus wasn’t just trying to teach His disciples humility when He said, “Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.”1 A good executive simply is not a dictator. He listens to his employees. When the top people don’t communicate with those under them, then of course they don’t understand them or their problems. When that happens, they’re headed for trouble!
At the time Paul wrote his letter to the church in Philippi, he was languishing in a Roman prison, yet in his introduction, he describes true happiness not as him being released, but as the Christians there having loving, harmonious relations with one another. Then he goes on to describe how they can do that:
For nearly 20 years, I’ve been with the same team running an NGO in the former Yugoslavia. “A marriage!” some people have commented. Yes, in a way it is. It has required many of the attributes and choices that a marriage calls for.
We build our work with our attitudes and actions day by day. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind if we want to excel in our jobs.
I was recently fascinated to read how scientists learned how to make more effective waterproof products such as raincoats and airplane parts by studying the ridges on butterfly wings. It struck me that I also could learn something from nature, and I began researching fruit trees.
I absolutely love avocado! Along with being delightfully delicious, it is a versatile fruit. Not to mention that it’s outstandingly healthy—one of the best sources of natural oils and many vitamins.