It is the middle of the night. I have been sleeping restlessly after taking a hard fall earlier in the day in our church parking ground. I tripped coming off the pavement, and this ‘Old Man’ felt as if I was literally running into a brick wall. For a minute or so I was in some pain and completely disorientated (like some of our politicians). By some miracle I landed up with a painful sprained left wrist only, a few drops of blood, a damaged suit and a broken pen. It was not a pleasant experience for my wife who was with me and desperately tried to help me up and support me in any way she could – probably the story of our fifty five year old marriage! She even persisted that I drink the remaining water in her water bottle, something she would not let anybody else do – a true test of love?
The gain of pain
Have you tried putting on a shirt with just one hand? Have you tried to put on socks with just one hand? Try to eat and cut your food with just one hand! Try to type this document with just one hand! I had no idea how much I depended on my left hand to do things until this unexpected incident. Suddenly I find that my left hand and wrist is a key factor in my daily life, from moment to moment. My appreciation for my left hand has grown dramatically.
In the midst of my efforts to adapt to having limited use of my sprained left wrist and hand I was impressed with the universal principle that I was being taught.
In the same way that my left hand fulfils a crucial role in serving me and my body, so also every organisation is only successful to the extent that it manifests deep-rooted appreciation for the role that each member of the staff plays in that organisation. The natural inclination that we may have towards arrogance, selfishness and pride may tend to rob us of an intelligent appreciation for the role of others around us.
In a previous article we made the following statement:
‘It is not so much differences of opinion that is hurting our country, but differences in respectfulness.’ It is one thing to profess respect for others as a social belief; it is another thing to embrace a deep-rooted appreciation for the contribution of others around us.
I have a fresh respect for the role of my left wrist and hand in the role of my mind, body and even spirit. I feel that my respect for others around me has also been boosted by the experience of my fall in the parking area. I have a friend of many years that has gradually grown completely blind. I now feel that I can identify with his challenges a little bit better than in the past.
The boost of respectfulness
I look back at my long life and realise that a major factor in influencing me to lift my performance to a higher level was the perception that some others really respected me as a unique person in my own right and not just one of the crowd. Not too many people have the ability to convey their respect for the uniqueness of others. Ultimately the incomparable role that my faith in my Creator has on my life is the belief that he loves and respects me as an individual, not just one of the crowd.
We can so much make a difference to the lives of others by striving to see and respect their dignity, potential and contribution as unique individuals.
The Old Man – Louis Groenewald
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Adriaan Groenewald is a leadership expert and commentator.
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