During certain times of the year, I do quite a bit of public speaking before large and small groups. As many of you know, I also share quite a few stories about my personal journey, and the journeys of others who have gifted me with their stories. The result of this depth of sharing is that people write me or stop me after a presentation and share their own insights, journeys or challenges. Here is a copy of a letter that I received a while ago:
“I wanted to let you know how I enjoyed your presentation.... I could have listened to you all day.
I also wanted to thank-you for what you said on compassion. I felt as though you were talking about me. You see, my 28 year old son died of AIDS.... I also cannot tell anyone because they laugh or make fun of people that have this awful disease. Why people do this is a mystery. When you loose a loved one - it doesn’t make any difference how they died - the pain is still there and it never goes away.
[During our time together as a group,] we went to a dinner show and the girls that sat across from me again showed no compassion. Our waiter looked a little feminine and they started joking about it. Then, AIDS was brought up. I thought to myself, these women just figure that people around them have not experienced this disease. My heart was breaking - this was the anniversary of my beloved son’s death. And they were joking about AIDS. Then my heart went out to the young man’s mother. She was no where around, but I felt compassion. And love for her and I prayed she would never have to go through the AIDS death with her son. Then I thought, this woman across from me has a 12 year old son. I didn’t know my son’s destination when he was 12, and I prayed that she would never have to go through an AIDS death with her son either.
Please never leave compassion out of your presentations. Maybe some day people will listen to someone like you. Then people like me can hold their head up and share their pain instead of hanging their head and being so alone.”
My hope is that all of us will show more compassion for each other this holiday season. As I often remind leaders, there is always more to the story. Our work life and our home life are all one life.
Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257