Friday, October 27, 2006
Finding the Good in Others Really Pays Off
Of course, our thoughts, whether positive and negative, also influence the way we respond to the people around us. Often, just by shifting our mental focus, we can bring about a profound change for the better in our relationship with another party. We can create a new reality.
And it may be hard to believe, but there can be times when our most private thoughts have a major, even life changing, impact on the attitude and conduct of another party. Without saying as much as a single word.
The following story is true, although I've changed some of the incidental details.
As a young man, Jake, like many of his compatriots, left the shores of his native land with its struggling economy to seek his fortune in more affluent climes. He settled down in a large city in the country of his adoption but was lonely and miserable. He didn't know whether it was on account of his ethnic origin, or because he was poor, or for whatever other reason, but he felt that people didn't respect him. And that upset him very much
Jake eventually opened a restaurant. It was successful beyond all expectations and soon he was able to open a second branch, and then another. Now at last, as a wealthy man, he was being sought after by a society that he believed had previously shunned him. That upset him even more, as he perceived that people were running after him only because of his money.
This perception, together with the unhappy memories of his early days in town, embittered Jake so much that he began to hate the world around him. The next stage was inevitable. In his business life, he began to involve himself in all kinds of shady deals. Before long, cheating and fraud were second nature to Jake.
On the other hand, somewhat paradoxically, he was known to treat his own employees well. There was one exception. Steve was a worker whose standards of honesty and integrity were higher than those of his fellow employees. This rankled his boss no end. Presumably, Steve - the very image of the upright individual he had himself once been - was pricking Jake's conscience a little too much.
Now, Steve had been brought up to concentrate on the good in every person. His parents had often commented that when you respect people, you influence them to become better. But as hard as he tried, Steve couldn't find anything good about a crooked boss who never missed an opportunity to cheat someone out of his money.
Then one day, Steve overheard a customer in the restaurant, who appeared to be connected to a leading local charitable institution, whisper to his fellow diners that he had just received, quite out of the blue, a large donation from the owner of this establishment.
At last Steve had found something positive in his boss! From now on, he made a special effort to rechannel his thoughts. Whenever he saw Jake, he didn't see a cheat and a swindler. He saw a generous man who supported charitable causes.
Hardly another week had passed when Jake came up to Steve one morning and said: "I don't know why I'm choosing you to confide in, and considering how nastily I've treated you in the past, I'll understand if you don't want to listen...
"But if you do, I want you to know that I woke up this morning feeling awful. I began to think to myself, 'Hey, what am I doing with my life? How can I look at myself in the mirror? Overnight, I have turned myself into a common crook!'
"You know, Steve, that's not how I was raised in my home country, nor is it what I intended to become when I arrived here. I'm destroying my life with my own hands, and I want to stop..."
Before long, Jake and Steve had become firm friends.
Some great lessons can be learned here. It was lack of respect for him that had caused Jake to lose his trust in mankind, which led to his gradual descent to the lowest ethical depths. It was respect for him and recognition of his true worth that led to his change of heart and moral reawakening.
And it all happened through a transformation, in turn, in his employee's secret thoughts.
And yes, without as much as his saying a word.
Labels: interpersonal relationships
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