It’s easy to be critical of others, and far too many people resort to being more critical than they might realize. I have own personal theories on why this occurs, and I have very low tolerance for being around or involved with people who behave this way.
Sure, there are times when you might have some constructive feedback which could be given to the person you are mentioning, but when the conversation doesn’t proceed in the direction of this occurring, in my opinion, this is one of the many reasons our society has been socially challenged. Imagine for a moment if you could be a part of changing the trajectory of this occurring? You can be, and it starts with a commitment to wanting to do so.
I have never met a perfect person. I’m also far from being this way, but when I hear other people talking about others in a less than favorable way, I always wonder if they perhaps think they are someone better than another person? I also think about whether they have considered the factors contributing to the reasons the person they are critiquing might be in the situation they are in?
Chances are strong that people who critique others in a negative way, and who do not proactively do something to help the person they are commenting on, may oddly be unaware of what they are doing. I realize this may sound preposterous, but consider the fact they may not actually have the level of self-awareness they need to stop doing this. Let alone, realize they are not accomplishing anything constructive either.
So, are there some people who are naturally able to imagine what it would be like to be walking in someone else’s shoes? Actually, there are, and most of them are leaders. Not always leaders in the traditional sense of being one, but they possess many of the characteristics of strong ones. There has been a long-standing debate about whether leaders are born, or created? In my opinion, I believe it can be either, and potentially a blend of both.
Among many of the things we can learn from and be taught by leaders is their ability to understand and relate well to other people. At a base foundation, to appreciate another person at an entirely different level than others. Also, to see qualities in other people which they can polish and help them to bring forward. They accomplish this by authentically interacting with each person, and finding a common thread which allows them to initiate and foster a trusting relationship. Although this may sound overly simplistic and easy to accomplish, it’s not.
The people who I would classify as leaders, and many of them are also sports coaches, approach interacting with people differently. Are they taught how to do this? Not really, as this trait is largely innate.
For those of you who are leaders, and even if you are not classified as one, traditionally or non-traditionally, and you have not yet mastered the art of authentically interacting well with others, there are some things you can do to mimic some of the characteristics of doing this. One of them is to be open-minded. Of course, saying and doing this are completely separate things, but this is one of the traits the majority of leaders share in common. Possessing this trait also allows a leader to be more approachable, and have others want to support them.
People who are open-minded will also often possess a heightened sense of empathy. Their empathy will provide them with having an appreciation for what another person is dealing with. This level of understanding naturally translates to having them be able to consider options and suggestions to help another person, versus being critical of them. Either verbally to another person, or in their own mind. When a person can literally imagine what it is like to “walk in another person’s shoes”, they have the ability to not only help another person, but considerably make a difference in that person’s life. Although perhaps not always in a dramatic way.
If you are presently someone who is aspiring to become a leader, or if you are a leader, yet may not have mastered the art of being able to know what it is like to “walk in someone else’s shoes”, I have some suggestions for you.
- Ask yourself if you are truly willing to allow yourself to be open-minded?
- If you hesitated with considering being open-minded, think about what is contributing to why you might struggle with being this way.
- Even if you are open-minded, it is something which takes practice to continue to be this way. What are you doing to put yourself in a position to practice this?
- This is a tough question, and even harder to truthfully answer. On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest, how much do you like other people?
- Consider how you feel when you help to improve others lives. What are you doing on a regular basis to contribute to accomplishing this?
- Factor in thinking about why it is important for you to lead others. Craft a list of both the pros and cons of doing so.
- Hint: If your pros and cons list has a longer list of cons, leadership may not be for you.
- Genuine leaders put others before themselves, but also make sure they continue to invest in themselves (e.g., physically, mentally, potentially spiritually) to be the best leader they can be.
- Many leaders and sports coaches have shared with me that doing what they do is similar to having it be a “calling”, and that they cannot imagine not being in their role. Do you feel this way?
- Have you actually ever had the opportunity to “walk in someone else’s shoes?”
If you have had the chance to proverbially “walk in someone else’s shoes”, I’m sure it was a moment and experience in your life that dramatically changed your ability to lead others. Or, more importantly to be the type of person we could all benefit from having more of in our lives.
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