Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Meaning of Respect

It's the day before another work week, and I'm thinking about how much I hate my job.

I love the people that I work with (for the most part) and I realize the impact that my work has on the people that my job serves, even if it is in some seemingly insignificant administrative role. What I hate about my job, the thing that makes it almost impossible to show up with enthusiasm, is the leadership.

The leaders of my company are some of the most self absorbed, shallow collection of men and women that I have ever had the displeasure to be around. They are demeaning, disrespectful, inconsiderate and distrustful of others.

They ask you to perform a task and then proceed with sadistic pleasure to micro manage the project. They pick a part every idea that isn't theirs, often with insolence fueled by avarice. More often than not, your ideas show up in their final drafts, after being regifted by one of their sycophants who have some their souls at the altar of brown nosing.

The ONLY thing that keeps me from saying these things to their face is their job title and the control over my financial future that accompanies the position which they enjoy. It is not a true form of admiration, but a close cousin.

I liken it to the power that a robber has over the victim being fleeced at gun point. It's not that you want to share your credit cards and cash with the robber as much as you don't want to be killed over objects that are insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

Thinking of the second raters that I work for made me think of the meaning of respect. Not respect that is dictated by control or fear, by positions of authority or incredible feats, but TRUE respect.
The word respect comes from the Latin prefix re, which means back, and the suffix specere, which means to look. In essence, to respect someone or something, including one's self, is to be able to look back on that object with pride and admiration.

A respectable life is one that we can look back on without regret. A respectable leader is one that we gaze upon without fear or distrust. We follow them because they are competent and fair, strong but not rigid, kind because they are self confident, confident but not cocky. We respect them because they are humble in victory and gracious in defeat.

The person that truly deserves respect doesn't ask for it, or even demand it. They realize that respect is earned by actions, not deeds because deeds are acts performed with reciprocity in mind. The person that is truly worthy of respect does things for the doing, not for glory, fame, fortune or power.
At its core, respect is only that which we can look at.

Want to know if you can respect your wife? Look in her eyes. Want to know if you can respect your boss? See if they can look you in the eyes when they speak to you. Want to know if you respect yourself? Cover your house with mirrors.

How will you know when the world respects you? When such thoughts cease to cross your mind.