Sometimes we think of compassion as passive, as if it’s only an emotional feeling or intention. If you are anything like me, the word compassion might not be one that you initially relate to, as it is typically used to describe someone openly empathetic or emotionally sensitive and expressive. My heart does not live on my sleeve and I prefer that it that way. (Although for some folks this definitely works in their favor…)
But what if we challenge that simplistic, two dimensional idea? What if we instead put legs to compassion?
As leaders, this might look like being the one to make the first move: invite that new mom out for coffee (and pay for her triple shot latte!), start the project that your church/organization has had on the back-burner for awhile, or champion that deserving employee for promotion.
Compassion can look like so many things, but the heart of it is being willing to take initiative on behalf of others. A few years back a good friend of mine was struggling with quitting her full time job in order to make the leap and go all-in as a small business owner. She had the financial savings, she had the technical chops, and she had an established client base. All she lacked was the confidence to take the leap into entrepreneur-ville! Every time we met for coffee during this season, the conversation would eventually lead up to this burning question of whether she should go for it. And my heart would almost burst with a mixture of empathy (because I understood the fear of the moment) and excitement (because I knew she would succeed!) As a result of the combination of my personal strengths of Command, Strategic, and Futuristic, I was able to directly speak out what her future could look like in this potential reality. I truly hope that my words were encouraging to her in that pivotal moment. [She would go on to quit the day job, pursue her small business, and flourish both professionally and personally!]
Compassion can be helping to lead others toward their dreams and goals with a bolstering word in the face of fear. It can look like being the one to actually sit down and work on a budget together. Compassion is simply the use of your creative response in the service of others’ needs.
Just because you might not tear up at a Nicolas Sparks movie or that Sarah Mclachlan ASPCA commercial doesn’t mean that you are without compassion. Let’s look for ways to put compassion into action!
**This series on leadership is inspired by Gallup’s StrengthsFinder test and materials. I highly recommend everyone to take it– it is the most accurate and encouraging test of its kind that I’ve come across. Just so you know, I don’t make any commission off that link; I’ve just found it to be a valuable resource and want to share it with everyone!**