Saturday, May 16, 2009

Circumstance and caution

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day

Repudiate \rih-PYOO-dee-ayt verb
1 : to refuse to have anything to do with : disown
*2 : to refuse to acknowledge, accept, or pay

Example Sentence: The nation's president has unequivocally repudiated the arms treaty, and it is very probable that he has green-lighted the manufacturing of strategic nuclear weapons.

What an interesting word. Reading the definition reminded me of my ongoing discipline of situational avoidance to prevent self-immolation.

The definition also made me smile because I have an exact opposite relationship with my hero, a mentor with whom I am utterly safe. He’s my dad. I admire him for many reasons. This morning I was considering his loyalty to others and his ability to boost others' confidence while developing their strengths. He is pleased rather than threatened by new ideas. He approaches innovations (even those accompanied by failures or gaffes) as opportunities for growth rather than opposition to his agenda.

When my father headed his various companies, he looked after his employees. He mentored and taught his teams to boost their skills. He was secure in himself and his ability to lead, so he rewarded originality - whether or not it was a perfect fit. He regularly went to bat for those who worked for him, even defending them legally if they had messed up a process. His team responded with hard work and loyalty. They were steadily at the top of their game, #1 in their industry, earning awards for productivity, creativity, and great outcomes compared to competitors.

We've all seen how personal giftings and strengths have corresponding down-sides. People-pleasers bend to the pressure of peers to avoid conflict. Strongly opinionated people use bad language and inappropriate, racist, or sexist comments to make a point. Dreamers forget to implement the details of a plan. Good administrators get caught up in their positions and bully underlings. Big picture idealists don’t always think through the implications of their actions. No matter what our gifts, all of us mess up. And some of us have more than a few mistakes among our success stories.

There are good reasons to limit or repudiate some people’s company. Gossips hurt our reputations. Negative people drain our energy by assuming bad motives behind poor actions. Some people remember our malfunctions to define us. No matter how often we exercise discipline and succeed, our failures shape the pattern by which they confine us, especially if our lapses are public and humiliating.

It's important to forgive, to stay open to disagreements and different views. Wisdom and experience, however, makes us extremely cautious of those who value rules above relationships, and wary of those with more confidence in exercising control than in boosting others to the next level of achievement.

Let’s invest ourselves most where we can be fully alive. We can't always - nor do we want to - avoid the pain of a hard lesson. But let's surround ourselves with people who assume our good intentions and teach us good judgment without leaving us undefended or vulnerable to attack. We'll do our best work in the haven of those with complimentary strengths, aware that each person has strong gifts and weaknesses. Whenever possible, let's find those partners whose gifts cover our very real and obvious flaws.

Read more:
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23 NIV

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