Last week I had the pleasure of attending another great Business Chicks event. This time the guest speaker was none other than Sir Bob Geldof of Boomtown Rats and Live Aid fame. A brilliantly engaging speaker, Sir Bob entertained us with stories of growing up in Ireland, life in the world of rock and roll and his journey to stardom. As fascinating as it was to hear about those aspects of his life, even more so was the insight he shared about what he has done, and continues to do, to win the war against global poverty.
Three key drivers behind Sir Bob’s humanitarian work and achievements stood out to me – Compassion, Courage and Commitment. While I listened to him talk I reflected on how equally important these three things are in business.
One online dictionary describes compassion as “deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it”; a definition that resonates with me as being true. Nearly every day I observe, talk about or to people who are deeply unhappy at work. Whether they are struggling to perform in their role, have lost a sense of purpose and direction in their career, or are miserable working with the people that they do, what is always evident is the very real impact their unhappiness at work has on the quality of their lives.
It’s important to understand that compassion isn’t just about demonstrating empathy or providing emotional support – sometimes the most compassionate thing we can do is help people see how they are in fact creating their own reality. Sometimes what we need is for someone to challenge us to step up, take ownership and do something about our own lot in life. Helping people to help themselves can be the most powerful act of compassion.
I believe leaders have an obligation to help relieve suffering at work and build happy teams; as a starting point they must care. While I believe it is a matter of integrity to do so, as I have spoken about many times before in my blogs, it also make good business sense. Research has shown that happy people are entirely more likely to bring the focus and passion to their work needed to succeed.
Sometimes in business, like in all areas of our lives, things get tough! Courage is about having the ability to take positive action despite our fears and limiting beliefs. Often our work demands that we step outside of our comfort zone, deal with conflict, do things differently, keep going in the face of adversity – all acts that take courage.
It is both our thinking and strength of spirit that influence our ability to be courageous. The things we tell ourselves about what we can and can’t do, how we perceive challenge and what we believe is possible are all examples of factors that impact our ability to live life courageously.
Sir Bob shared with us moments in his journey when he has questioned his own credibility; he described wondering whether ‘important and powerful people’ in politics would listen to him, would take him seriously. Despite his fears and pangs of limiting beliefs he has had the courage to challenge the world to be different and is continuing to do so to this day.
Commitment can be described as the sustained act of engaging ourselves with something or someone. More often than not success in any area of our life takes commitment over the long term. With the ups and downs that we inevitably experience this can be a far greater challenge than it may seem. To be committed when others have tired, packed up their bat and ball and gone home can be tough. Real commitment is reflected in our ability to stay the course and endure even when we are the last one left standing.
In my experience one of the most important ingredients in enabling us to commit is a clear view of our purpose – of why we chose to sign up in the first place. Keeping our mission in perspective, as Sir Bob clearly has, will ultimately determine our ability to remain committed through the good times and as well as the bad.
Thanks again to Business Chicks for what was a fantastic opportunity to be inspired by the compassion, courage and commitment of Sir Bob Geldof. Thanks also to Sir Bob for all he has done and is still doing to make our world a much better place.