It has been with great interest that I've read Tom Peter's latest book, "The Little Big Things" hence my homage to the partially co-opted title of his Section 31. What I found particularly insightful about this section of the book was how easily I related to the content and yet, how hard it is for me, no matter how many times I might have heard it, to automatically put it into daily practice.
A similar construct to the one that Tom advances in this section, appears an another form in anyother one of my favorite books by Pema Chodron. It was her concept of what she refers to in her teachings as "just like me." As she tells it, we should all live our lives with an appreciation for the fact that those whom we see an interact with in our lives, are beings who are framed by many of the same issues that make us who we are on any given day and at any given point in time. So it goes that when there's struggle or conflict or strife, resistance or pressure, it is helpfu for us to view other from this "just like me" perspective. So we view these times and these people with the notion, that "just like me, this person is under great pressure" or "just like me, this person is struggling to get by." I love this gentler way of reminding ourselves to grant to others the level of grace what we'd wish for ourselves.
Tom Peter's take is a bit different and yet he arrives too, at much the same place. Mr. Peter's notes that we see very little of the true essence of the people that we come into contact with each day, only about 2% of who they truly are as he estimates it. And, he reminds us of Plato's cautionary admonition: "Be kind, for everyone is fighting a great battle." And they are, and we lose sight of it frequently.
If we all could be more compassionate in our ways. I now try to take Plato's admonition into account in my interactions. These are in fact, difficult times and we are all fighting our own great battles.
My daughter recently had some difficulties at school, which I was sure at the outset had something more to do with her temporary lack of focus or commitment to the cause. I was disappointed and took the opportunity to tell her so. She was not at all happy with my effort to confirm for her, that which she already knew. The additional salt for the wound did no good at all and was not appreciated. In hindsight, I can see why she felt that way, for she too is fighting great battles.
Often times the energy that it takes to wage these private battles leaves us less present, less than effective and less than aware. So yesterday, I pulled her aside and gave her a long and soulful hug and said, "I'm sorry."
She was thankful for that effort and told me so by hugging me back, long and hard. A child's hug is among the most precious of life's gifts, one almost without equal.
What percent of the people around you did you see today?
Keep Plato's admonition in mind as you move through your world and let's all stop and take a breath and let our grace be what we lead with and in fact, where we lead from.