Lipkin’s definition of Respect: to celebrate the potential of everyone around you to contribute to your personal growth and success; to honor every person as a fellow Keeper of The Flame; to leave every facility better than you found it; To treat the elements of your personal environment with the care and deference they deserve.

You can always tell True Leaders by the courtesy they accord to others. Irrespective of their social position, they handle the people around them like most honored guests. Everything about them radiates a sense of reverence for the other person. It’s in their stance, their voice, their eyes. It’s not synthetic. True Leader’s respect for others spring from their inclination to look for reasons to admire the people around them.

Respect also means doing away with the standards of “Right and Wrong” when it comes to the customs, points of view and principles of others. There’s no Right and Wrong, there’s just different. And different means deference. It means seeing the other person as a partner in the mutual quest for Brilliance and Inspiration on the cusp of Change.
Respect applies to things as well as people. True Leaders have a relationship with every thing around them that borders on adoration. Think of the best people who you know. Think of the way they interact with food, machines, clothing and their physical environment. Watch a true craftsman with his tools, a sailor with his boat, or an athlete with his equipment. They understand that there is an interchange of energy between everyone and everything. Treat everything with respect and the respect flows back abundantly. It’s called reciprocal harmony and it’s a beautiful thing.

On the other hand, think of the last time you witnessed an expression of disrespect for a person, a thing or the environment. Whether we are directly implicated or not, it’s always disturbing. Any act of disrespect has aspect of violation to it. It diminishes the other person or thing. If we’re part of it, even if it’s only in the role of Observer, we are diminished along with it. Unless, of course, we take action. That’s always the crucial question: when should we intervene and when should we turn away. I know that you know the answers to those questions. It’s up to you, it’s up to the situation, it’s up to the act of disrespect. As a rule, though, we should act when we know what to do, with adequate respect for our own wellbeing and safety. My personal rule is that I want to act the way I would have liked to have acted the day after the event.

You cannot show to others what you do not show to yourself. Respect is an inside job. True Leaders sustain their dignity by honoring who they are, where they are, and where they’ve come from. Listen to the True Leaders around you. You will not hear them denigrating themselves. You will not hear them minimize their achievements. You will not hear the language of self-loathing. What you will hear is a pride; a strength; an independence; and a valued self-esteem.

Everyone messes up. Paradoxically, True Leaders mess up more than others because they’re trying more things, they’re risking themselves more, and they’re engaging more people. Their ability to keep on keeping on is a direct function of how they treat themselves after the mess up. It’s the respect they have for their ability to persevere, adapt, innovate, improvise, withstand, recover, and learn that sustains their stamina and self-belief.

Every week, I do something that amazes me because, in retrospect, it was so clear that it would fail. However, anything is obvious with the 20:20 vision of hindsight. I’m often tempted to hurl all abuse at myself. I’m often tempted to become angry at what I’ve done. I’ve learnt, though, that I don’t do self-abuse or anger well. I’ve learnt that I have the ability to hurt me more than anything else. As importantly, I’ve learnt that self-disrespect is a habit that is too easily formed. And once you succumb to that habit, you begin disrespecting others.

Respect is the conduit to self-control. If you honor the value of You, your world and all the people in it, you have to do what you believe is right for all parties. You will not act out of malice or self-indulgence. Trust me when I tell you that your instincts will serve you well. Yes, you will make mistakes, but they will be mistakes that build your world not bring it down.

Respect for yourself, your environment and others will also keep you humble. In fact, Webster’s Dictionary defines humility as being “courteously respectful”. I love that. It means that respect, combined with courtesy, will defend you against hubris.

One final comment on Respect: it’s an all-the-time emotion. If you want to strengthen your Respect-muscles, practice being respect-full when you’re agitated, in a hurry, angry, or fatigued. That’s when you need respect the most. And that’s when it will serve you the best because that’s when it will save you from yourself. The greatest threat to our sense of self esteem is “stressed behavior”, the actions we take in crises, crunch moments or testing situations. If you act poorly, or if you abuse others in any shape, manner or form, your actions will come back to haunt you over and over again. We manufacture our own nightmares through our lapses in the defining moments. It’s in those moments that our characters are forged. So make ultimate respect – for yourself, your environment and your fellow humans – your default position. Make the question, “How do I demonstrate my esteem for this person?” your instinctive guide when dealing with anyone, anywhere.

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