There’s a whole lot to talk about, but I’ll keep this to one point: Some people look for sympathy, and some people look for empathy. But, what most people need is compassion. Or in my case: I’m good at sympathizing, and I’m decent at empathizing. But, do I need some work at being compassionate. Here, let me explain the difference between these three using Max Lucado’s words:
“Compassion is one aspect of love. Compassion may grow from feelings, but true compassion represents a practical attention to someone’s needs. It doesn’t require us to feel: it requires us to act. Sympathy says, ‘I feel bad that you’re hungry.’ Empathy says, ‘I know something about how you feel; I was hungry once myself.’ But compassion says, ‘Friend, let’s go get something to eat.’ Sympathy and Empathy don’t require us to do anything; but compassion will cause us to touch, lift, feed, and help those in need as Jesus did for the leper.”
Wow! All along I have felt that I was a compassionate person. However, now I realize that I’ve been practicing the art of sympathy and empathy, and forgetting the act of compassion. To reiterate Lucado’s argument, true compassion is about action and not about what you say or feel.
So, what can leaders take away from this? What can you as leaders do to show compassion? Or, are you even worried about this compassion thing? Is compassion an important part of leadership?
I want your thoughts. I want to dig deep and start a conversation on this, but I need your comments! One final question for you that is bound to get you thinking: Where do you draw the line? Specifically, at what point can your compassion lead to “enabling” of unwanted behaviors from your followers?
note: picture courtesy of http://www.artstonepublishers.com/Compassion.gif