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Humility is about me. Empathy is about other people. Before I do anything else, every morning I meditate and pray. I pray that I can respond with grace under pressure. My ego gives me confidence to explore opportunities, take risks and ignore “haters”, Having an ego is a strength, but like any other strength, when overused it becomes a weakness. Success and power can lead to egocentrism where one becomes more concerned about themselves than those they lead and serve. So, every morning I meditate on checking my ego, applying the golden rule, accepting truth and lifting others up. And then the day begins.

I get more done when I prioritize and plan my days, but life happens.  You know Murphy’s Law, “If anything can go wrong it will, [ at the worse time]”. Here’s an example: Mondays start at 6:30 with Toastmasters. A few months ago, Murphy was enforcing its law. I started the coffee brewing, turned on the computer and hear water flowing. That shouldn’t be. I’m the only one up. Oh no, It’s the water heater.  I was scheduled to present at Toastmasters but couldn’t because of the emergency. Club members were understanding, but I felt awful. After the repairman left, I sat down to work on my new computer but couldn’t get to the browser to write my weekly blog. I called Geek Squad; they couldn’t help me until Thursday. I post my blogs on Tuesdays. You can imagine how furious I was. The water heater was bad enough, now this! How could this be happening to me.

I wasn’t satisfied with the first Geek Squad response. This time I was going up the chain of command. You just wait until I get that Geek Squad supervisor on the phone. I called the number and got put on hold for 5 minutes. When someone finally answered I was going to let them have it. I was almost hyperventilating, so I had to pause before speaking. The person on the other end spoke first. He sounded distraught. He had a serious family emergency but chose to come in because the department was shorthanded.

I am so glad for the hyperventilation pause because it gave me the opportunity to check my ego and channel empathy. One never knows what another person is going through. Despite the challenges faced, that person came in to serve but I was going to let him have it because I was inconvenienced. The experience reminded me to practice empathy by seeing the situation through the eyes, hearing through the ears and feeling the world as others feel it. The take home message: pause and think before speaking. In other words, seek first to understand and then to be understood. That’s grace under pressure.

People are becoming more polarized and self-centered which is eroding empathy. I will speak on the consequences associated with diminishing empathy next week. Change your thoughts, change your destiny!