Thursday, May 20, 2010

Some thoughts on being human

There are moments in life when we try and try, and still it's not enough.  There are times when you wish you would have reacted differently, been more kind, been more generous.  There are days when you wince at the things that were said and done.  These are teaching moments.

They teach us to reflect on the situation and remember it, for better and for worse. Teaching moments sting - they make you wince when you think of them.  Teaching moments bring our humanity back to us so that we remember how to be  . . . human.

Being human is not an easy task for us humans, I find.  Quite often, I think that to be human is to be a great aspiration, and not easy to achieve.

So what is a good human?  To me, a good human is someone who is authentic in who they are and live in their own skin, no matter what.  Good humans stand up for others when they need it, no matter what the repercussions.  Good humans ask for help, and they help others, without being asked.  Those are tall orders.  Think of great humans who embodied these principles and who have shaped our world with their actions:   Gandhi, Martin Luther King. Princess Diana, Mother Teresa . . .

Sometimes I worry that there are not enough good humans.  Truthfully, I tend to see a lot of what I would consider "carnivorous" behavior in the world.  People who would swallow their young to get ahead.  People who would sell their friends down a river for a chance to get up stream.  In fact, sometimes I think this kind of behavior is rewarded.  Maybe that's why many leaders tend to have narcissist behaviors.

All I can say is, nobody is human all the time.  We slip into negative behaviors because we are afraid, intimidated, or our pride and ego is driving us.  Good humans feel others and are empathetic towards them.  But they and we are human, so we make mistakes.

I am happy to report that there are good humans walking among us.  A leader whom I respect is the President of the University of Regina.  She said recently at a Women in Leadership Conference:  She said, "leaders cry sometimes. . . because as a leader, if you didn't invest emotional energy, you are not a leader."

Another leader who I believe to be a great human, my friend, coach and mentor,  recently reminded that everyone fails, everyone falters. Everyone wishes they would have done or said things differently.  It's how you pick yourself up that matters.

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