I have been invited by Don Bosco Publication, which reaches out to families and communities globally, to share my thoughts on the theme ‘how to bring about full potential of the society in doing good to one another’. My previous post for the publication was focussed on the topic of embracing a Growth Mindset, and in this one I will share more on how we can build a culture of building a better environment and society by acting in a manner which benefits yourself, others and the society as a whole.
The Golden Rule
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”
This maxim, commonly known as The Golden Rule of Ethics, or the Rule of Reciprocity has been much attributed as an exclusive Christian teaching (Matthew 7:12). One would be surprised to learn though that variations of the same can be found across most world religions, including, but not limited to, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism and Judaism.
Wisdom of Silence
“If you have nothing nice to say to others, it’s best to say nothing instead”
This is another rule that also adds much value in the long run. Much of our time in community can be ill spent talking about others instead of talking about ideas, and building others and the world at large, up.
One can always become a better version of self by learning the methods of offering plus evaluating constructive criticism (different from destructive criticism/ pulling others down/ making light of other’s efforts).
How does one go about applying the Golden Rule?
One can start applying more of the Golden Rule by approaching most instances by assuming positive intent. This means applying the belief that when faced with an instance where you can assume either good or bad intent from the individual/ entity you are interacting with, you start off assuming that they are working in your interest (or on the corollary, not trying to sabotage your interest).
- Eg 1) You are stuck in traffic and your car is hit lightly by a bike from behind. You are more than a bit irked, and when you check back, you find a mother with 2 young kids in school uniforms trying to balance her bike. How do you react? Would you assume she did this with the intent to damage your vehicle? Or would you assume that she was simply in a hurry, and managed to not fully apply the brakes? Bear in mind that they have hit your bumper lightly, and how you react in the next 30 seconds will impact how you and they feel for at least the next 30 minutes.
- Eg 2) You are in a meeting with a prospective partner for your business. You went in with a set of expectations and alignment in terms of partnership, but instead find that they are only willing to listen and share from a different perspective. How do you manage this? Do you stick to your guns, or try to meet them halfway, assuming and trying to understand the reason behind their rigid stance. Bear in mind that you have heard good things about the other party, that this is probably the first time you are meeting them professionally, and how you manage the next 30 minutes will impact if and whether there will be a win-win partnership, or not.
- Eg 1) Were you to hit a car from behind, do you right out go ahead, apologize and make amends? Or do you try to lie and cheat, to negotiate your way out, by blaming the other person?
- Eg 2) In a business partnership, should the next person be a novice/ amateur and should there be no straight alignment in values or business opportunity, do you act dishonestly and try to gain extra money and mileage at their expense nonetheless? Or do you honestly communicate that you are probably not the right business partner for them at the moment, and request them to circle back whenever the right opportunity and time comes.
Exceptions to the Golden Rule:
There is no one way to do things, and should one be presented with evidence which shows ill intent/ dishonesty in dealings from the other entity, one is always free to act in accordance to one’s values.
I personally look at values as a huge indicator for whether, or not, I should work with someone, and have walked away more times than I remember regardless of how much wealth or power the other entity wielded. If you see someone behaving unethically, speaking ill of others, treating others with disrespect, taking credit for something they clearly did not do, or dealing with others dishonestly, chances are when the time comes, they will do the same to you. Life is too short to waste time on any of those things, which can be simply avoided by looking forward.
How does one go about applying the Wisdom of Silence?
Should one choose to keep working towards one’s higher self, I have personally found this to be an effective tool. Resist the temptation to waste time talking ill about others, or talking ill to others. Also avoid, or limit time to a minimum with, people who do the same.
- Eg 1) When in a group, one of your friends shares his/ her thoughts about their dreams and aspirations, and the group joins in on making fun of them (light-heartedly/ otherwise), how do you react? Do you join in with the peers? Or do you try to manage the energy in the group and steer it towards helping your friend evaluate and plan the feasibility plus next steps to achieve the same (in group/ otherwise).
- Eg 1) When you are in a group you trust and feel comfortable sharing your ideas and dreams with – should you get shot down, or jeered at (happens more in the initial phases when you are just starting out – unless your dreams are really big, which would scare most others, including yourself… and which is Ok), how do you react? Do you take it personally and lash back right there? Or do you choose to exercise silence as a response for this group, focussing on other things you share with them; whilst you keep working on the feasibility and plan the next steps, connecting and working with people who share your wavelength?
Exceptions to the Rule:
There are times when one must not just consider, but should unequivocally speak up. This is applicable whenever one intends to apply constructive criticism, to help an entity serve it’s stakeholders better, as also when one must speak up against injustice.
The more recent #NeverAgain, #NeverAgainMSD and #MarchForOurLives movement post the gun shootings in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida in the United States; and the India Against Corruption (IAC) movement closer home in India are commendable examples of when speaking up about the not-so-nice-things is of paramount importance, to move the society, nation and the world forward.
As we near the end of this post, the following quote sums it up well.
“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny”
– Frank Outlaw
May the Force be with you for all times to come; and may your Community, Nation and the World be better off because of your existence and the value-add made.
Cheers & Best, Monce