Express Your Empathy
2020 has been a very eventful year. The COVID19 pandemic that has completely disrupted our lives still remains the headline news story around the world. We are constantly inundated with new coronavirus developments on various media platforms. Most of these updates are depressing information of its spread and the growing number of deaths by the virus as well as its devastating effects on the global economy. Many have experienced different forms of losses including jobs, businesses, opportunities and the list is endless. More than ever before, the world needs compassionate people at every level of society.
Compassion is an important trait of great leaders. While some think it makes people too soft to lead, American attorney and politician Rudy Giuliani believes that compassion doesn’t weaken leadership, it makes it stronger.
One person whose life has influenced many around the world is India’s Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi was a trained lawyer, called to bar at age 22. He is widely known today as a civil rights activist, an anti-colonial nationalist and politician respected in India as “The Father of The Nation” because of his contributions to the formation of Modern India. After failed attempts to start a law practice in India, he moved to South Africa in 1893 to represent an Indian merchant in a lawsuit. He later stayed there for 21 years during which he raised a family and first employed non-violent resistance in a campaign for civil rights. In 1915, he returned to India at age 45 and almost immediately set out to organise peasants, farmers, and urban labourers to protest against excessive land-tax and discrimination. After assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led numerous nationwide campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women’s rights, fostering religious and ethnic peace and above all India’s national independence from British rule in 1947. These achievements have inspired the movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.
Observers have said that one thing that endeared Gandhi to his people and aided his mobilization was his undeniable show of compassion. Among many other instances, the story is told of an incident that occurred on one of his numerous trips. As Gandhi stepped aboard a train, his shoes slipped off and landed on the track. Unable to retrieve it as the train started rolling, he amazed his companions as he calmly took off his other shoe and threw it back along the track close to the first shoe. Asked by a fellow passenger why he did that, Gandhi replied, “the poor man who finds the shoe lying on the track will now have a pair he can use.” This thinking reflects the kind of heart Gandhi had. No wonder he could unite people to stand up for their rights.
Though we are not necessarily fighting for civic rights like Gandhi, our world today definitely needs more compassionate people. Sometimes, we are oblivious of how people are feeling because we are so focused on our own plans. While we try to hit targets and accomplish goals, we should also be deliberate about carrying out simple acts of compassion to brighten someone’s day. To be effective leaders, we must have the necessary compassion to inspire understanding, knowledge and loyalty in people.
It’s not difficult to show compassion, you will only require some practice. Here are 3 things to note to become more compassionate, especially in times like these:
- Compassion is in Action
It’s not just an emotion. Compassion is beyond the emotion of empathy, love, and care, psychologists widely regard it more as actions. You have to give expression to your empathy by the things you say and do to lead people effectively. That’s actually how they know that you care and will most likely support you and your course.
- Show Compassion at Your Level
I have heard people say, “When I have this or that, then I will do huge philanthropic gestures. I will help the needy and donate to motherless babies’ homes”. All these sound really good but it’s important to begin at the level you are now. Always remember that the big things we want to do actually start from small beginnings today. Start showing compassion today.
- Don’t Be Discouraged by Reactions
Sometimes, your show of compassion would be misunderstood. Some people may misinterpret your intentions, while some might purposely do things to discredit you and your acts of compassion. Don’t let their actions discourage you. Stay focused on the value you are delivering to others. The returns to you are far more than what you will get back from any individual. You are making the world a better place.
So, would you be the reason behind another person’s smile? Regardless of your state and status, you can show compassion to someone around you. That is how to live a truly impactful life.
Remember, You Have Only One Life to Live, MAKE IT COUNT!