How Being Compassionate Is NOT About Being Soft

How Being Compassionate Is NOT About Being Soft

How Being Compassionate Is NOT About Being Soft

This week you will see me at the WHYs Women Retreat in Marrakesh organised by my great friends Marion Bevington and Cheryl Chapman.  Cheryl invited me along to experience the week so that when I write her blogs/help her with her social media, I understand what is going on!!

Without giving too much away, if you haven’t been (and if not I recommend that you do), one of the exercises involved picking a card which had something written on it which might just shed some insight onto your current situation.

My card was compassion. And when Marion asked me what that meant to me I thought – “well, I think I am quite a compassionate person.  I try to always understand the other persons point of view and walk in their shoes for a bit, and therefore show compassion for their situation.  So, the compassion I need to show must be for myself.”

Like a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners (especially female ones) I can be very hard on myself and never expect any of my team to do anything I wouldn’t or to work as hard as I do.  I have an enormous elastic where other people are concerned and a very short one where I am concerned, in other words I don’t tolerate any mistakes or ‘failings’ in myself whatsoever. Whereas, I am perhaps over indulgent of ‘failings’ in others.

But that was only half of what Marion was getting at.  She told me a wonderful story, urban myth possibly, about a buddhist monk and teacher who was known for their calm and compassionate nature.  One day they were heard shouting and berating a child.  When asked why, the monk replied that it was what the boy most needed and that compassion is not about being soft, it is about hearing/feeling/understanding what it is that a person really needs and giving it to them.

I can’t imagine a buddhist monk shouting at anyone, let alone a child, however, I do get the point of the story.  Which is that sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.  Showing endless patience and putting up with a lower level of performance or a lower level of behaviour is not actually the compassionate thing it might appear to be.

If you are in a position – as a parent or a boss, a friend or a coach – to influence a person, and you don’t address mistakes, poor performance or poor standards of behaviour – then you are not being kind to that person.  If you let your child get away with too much and don’t talk about or correct bad behaviour then they will likely grow up to be a horrible adult.  And that’s not doing them any favours. And the same applies in business.

Clearly every situation is unique and needs to be looked at with that in mind.  I believe in ask first, shout later!   Not that I shout at work.  In fact – I can only remember really shouting at someone at work once in my entire time as a manager / leader – and trust me – they deserved it.  I believe that generally when you show the way by taking responsibility it is easier to instil that culture in your team.  And, yes, I still need to do that more.

Perhaps the rest of this week will help me with the how to do that as well!  And that is what I like about this retreat – there is lots of interaction, lots of learning and lots of discussion with other women business owners and would be business owners, about their experiences and their tips for dealing with the ups and downs of running a business.

In fact – I am liking everything about this retreat except for the name!  I am not loving the name ‘retreat’ for this kind of event as it is not really about hiding away or running away – it is about stepping up and supporting others and yourself!

And in that spirit my event next April (dates to be confirmed) will be called a Power UP event, and will be all about how you get your business to the next level.  The retreat will be in the Philippines – look out for details coming soon!



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