Operating from Respect

I learned something about myself about three weeks ago, and it has completely changed the way in which I approach life. I learned that almost everything that bothered me to any serious level could be attributed to a lack of respect. Since coming to this realization, I’ve never been happier or more challenged, so I hope that sharing it with you can help you in some way.

First, a little bit of background -

For most of my life, I’ve been perpetually late. If I said that I would be somewhere at a certain time, you could expect that I’d arrive no sooner than thirty minutes after I said that I would. But a few years ago, that changed. I gained a respect for the value of time, and I realized what my being late was doing to other people. This was the start of where I am today.

Two weeks ago, during an all-hands meeting at FullContact, our CEO Bart revealed what the executive team had been working on during an off-site retreat the week before. It was a piece-by-piece definition of our company culture, and it was positively spot-on. But one part of it struck me more than anything else:

We operate from a position of trust.

That is to say that, within the company, we constantly assume that every one of us has the best interest of the company in mind. So when a request seems strange, or when a judgement call is outside of the norm, we start by trusting that our team member is making that request or call for the good of the company.

My personal derivative from this piece of corporate culture is that I now operate from a position of respect. While respect for a person certainly needs to be earned, there should be nothing stopping you from respecting their opinion, their time, their insight or their work. Sure, your level of respect may change, but on a scale of 0-100, starting at a 50 instead of a 0 will change the way that you interact with someone.

But this is more than just professional. It is, in fact, intensely personal for me.

Confession time: For years, I was a habitual liar. I didn’t need a reason to lie to you, I needed a reason to tell the truth. After losing almost everything good in my life because of my lies, I decided to make a change. As such, there’s almost nothing now that bothers me more than being lied to.

But it’s not the act of the lie, it’s the disrespect that it signals. It’s a disrespect of my ability to sniff out the truth (which I’m exceptionally good at doing these days, much to the chagrin of many), a disrespect of me as a person and a disrespect of our relationship with each other.

These days, while I will attempt to do so tactfully, I will be brutally honest. It is simply the respectful thing to do.

As I’m writing this, it’s Saturday morning. I had a great talk with my kids last night about the value of respect, and I’m seeing differences in how they are approaching things today. I hope that they can take what we’ve talked about and make it a core value of their lives, because I don’t think that there’s anything more important than respect.

My challenge to you - Even if it makes you seem slow to react, or even if it’s completely unnatural for you, before you react to something, consider it from a position of respect. I think you’ll find it valuable and I think you will grow professionally…but more importantly I know that you will grow personally.


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