Welcome to the Deploy Yourself Newsletter. Every two weeks I share about what impactful coaching and leadership look like. I also share the most insightful lessons and stories I encountered in the last two weeks. You can also read this issue online.
Throughout our lives, we learn many skills that are drilled into us through regular tests, projects, and repetition. But Empathy is never taught in our schools and colleges, and yet it might be our most important ability as human beings – the ability to walk in another person’s shoes.
Imagine witnessing someone get a paper cut — you not only sympathize with their pain, but you might also wince, or draw your own hand back involuntarily. Imagine having goosebumps and feeling sorry for someone who just made a fool of themselves in public. That is empathy – to feel the pain, joy, or suffering of another as if it were your own.
As human beings, it is natural to have a differing point of view on a subject. But conflicts don’t occur because of different perspectives. They occur because of our inability to acknowledge the other person’s point of view. It is a lack of empathy that leads to conflicts and arguments, which are all too common in the world around us.
Friction should be between points of view, not between people, and certainly not between communities and nations. It is empathy that allows us to be OK with friction and celebrate our differences. Stepping into another person’s shoes is the necessary first step we must take to engage in productive conversations, iron out our differences without making things personal, and reach a win-win solution/agreement.
Like any skill, empathy can be learned. Here is how you can do so:-
- Pay Attention – Be fully present without distractions when in the company of others.
- Active Listening – Stop thinking about what you’re going to say next and just take in what the other person is saying.
- Don’t Interrupt – Even with the best intentions, saying things like, ‘It’ll get better,’ or ‘It’s not that bad’ diminish the other person’s problems and may cause them to shut down. Avoid doing that.
- Make It About them, Not You – Resist the urge to speak. Use filler words like “umm”, “and”, and “tell me more” to hear them out fully before speaking.
- Be Open and Vulnerable – Empathy is a two-way street. We make these connections by sharing our own vulnerabilities and struggles. Don’t be afraid to open up.
To explore this topic more, read my articles on Understanding Conflicts, The Importance of Listening, and The Five Different Perspectives.
Articles and Stories Which Have Fascinated Me
“The best way to break a bad habit is to make it impossible to do. And the best way to create a good habit is to automate it so you never have to think about it again. Here are some examples –
- Nutrition: Use smaller plates to reduce caloric intake.
- Sleep: Remove your television from your bedroom.
- Productivity: Delete games and social media apps from your phone.
- Focus: Permanently set your phone in Do Not Disturb mode.”
From an article titled How to Automate a Habit and Never Think About It Again by James Clear.
The 12 Transformations
1. From blaming to owning: stop acting like a mere victim of circumstances out of your control and take charge of your life. (Responsibility)
2. From winning to meaning: stop pursuing only competitive goals and realize that happiness comes from pursuing a noble purpose through ethical means. (Wisdom)
3. From knowing to learning: stop trying to prove that you’re always right and open up to new possibilities. (Humility)
4. From judging to understanding: stop seeing people through your mental filters and put yourself in their shoes. (Compassion)
5. From avoiding to confronting: stop suppressing uncomfortable information and face reality. (Courage)
6. From pleasing to truth-telling: stop altering your story to be liked by others and start telling the truth to be liked by yourself. (Honesty)
7. From controlling to considering: stop telling people what to do and take into account what they want to do. (Respect)
8. From taking to trading: stop negotiating win-lose and look for ways in which everybody can be better off through an exchange. (Creativity)
9. From defaulting to delivering: stop defrauding your creditors and honor your promises unconditionally. (Integrity)
10. From indulging to investing: stop seeking immediate gratification and postpone pleasure for the sake of happiness. (Discipline)
11. From complying to committing: stop obeying as if you had no choice and choose to do what you do fully. (Commitment)
12. From bossing to leading: stop managing people through external rewards and punishments and inspire them with a dignifying purpose. (Vision)
From Conscious Business: How to Build Value Through Values by Fred Kofman
My take on the Book Shoe Dog by Phil Knight – the Founder of Nike
“This must be one of the best business memoirs written. It is one of my favorite autobiographies, and I have read a lot of them. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight will make you sit up and take note of the drama, your eyes will tear up because of the ups and downs, and you will be left enthralled by his passion which led to the creation of Nike.
It goes deep into the formation of Nike and the personality of the author, who bares his soul open with his honest writing. Shoe Dog is an epic tale of faith, commitment, failure, triumph, hard-earned wisdom, and love.”
That’s it for now. All the best,