Compassion And Leadership
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Dec 6, 2012
Last week in Kansas City one of their football players shot and killed his girlfriend, the mother of their 3-month old daughter. Then he went to the practice facility where he encountered the head coach and the general manager, had a conversation with them, thanked them and then, as he walked away, shot himself in the head, committing suicide. The next day there was still a football game to play, which the team did, but first they had a moment of silence against domestic violence, since two young people were suddenly gone from such an act of violence.
Later that same day, and in the days since, people have been trying to make sense of what happened. In general there’s no making sense of something like this; at least there doesn’t seem to be. However, what we see more often than not in these situations is that it’s the male who seems to be the aggressor; not always of course but most of the time.
Many of the articles I’ve read have said that the problem isn’t really a new one, just one that’s been exacerbated because it’s easier to kill now than it used to be. I agree with the first part but not really with the second part. Since I agree with the first part, let’s talk about that.
What we really don’t have is a community or society where people can feel free to express themselves in a safe place to get things off their mind. Women seem more able to have conversations with other women about their feelings, and psychiatry says that’s good. But I know from my own experience that there are things I would never consider talking about with any of my male, or female friends.
That was my generation, where men weren’t encouraged to share their feelings with anyone. Unless you broke a bone, you were told as a male not to show that you were in pain.
I love my dad, but he was famous for telling me to “rub dirt on it” if I got a minor injury, his way of saying if it didn’t cripple me it wasn’t all that bad.
I also heard through my early life that boys don’t cry, thus I didn’t cry from age 9 until age 43, when my dad passed away.
Finally, I was told to learn to control my feelings, probably more because I had a bad temper as a kid, but also because Dad believed if you could hide your feelings it gave you an advantage over others. That pretty much meant to hold as much in as possible because to do otherwise would be a show of weakness; we couldn’t have that.
Things are supposed to be different now but they’re really not. Where there are some families that openly welcome an exchange of feelings and emotions, it’s still not the norm. Media doesn’t fully support that type of thing; just watch a football game and listen to the announcers telling us how tough someone is in dealing with their pain and not complaining about it. How many of us could go through our days normally with cracked ribs, twisted ankles and concussions?
Years ago I wrote a health care newsletter where I talked about the need for health care workers to show more compassion towards patients and their families. Compassion is something that all businesses and individuals need to think about. Every day when we’re out and we see people, sometimes we know that someone is going through something bad. Depression in others is easy to feel. Problems other are having, especially when we work with them, it easy to feel. Often we try to ignore it; we don’t want to get caught up in someone else’s problems because then we feel we need to fix those problems.
What can we do? As leaders we need to be willing to listen to those who have issues. It’s not always the leaders job to solve someone else’s personal problems, but being an ear for someone is compassionate. If you’re a friend, male or female, if you have any leadership skills you’ll let your friend know that he or she can talk to you without judgment. I’ve wondered how many kids that commit suicide or do other stupid stuff (you know what I’m alluding to) would have made a different choice if they’d had someone to talk to.
Just something to think about; what say you?