Very likely, we've all been there. We've interviewed a candidate, proceeded with more than a bit of caution, and then found out that this person quickly grew into our best employee. Maybe it was her age, his shyness, her nontraditional look, or a simple lack of self-esteem that we initially questioned. And, it makes sense. The survivalist in all of us is quick to judge, quick to condemn, and quick to pounce when we are confronted with a person we perceive as weaker, less talented, or less socially adept. With all of our progressive views and insight we still have a tendency to respond emotionally, acting as though we are no more understanding or enlightened than the Neanderthal who came before us - swinging a club when confronted with something we don't understand. We are survivors. And survivors must have prey. However, survivors, if we are to truly evolve and thrive, must also learn from others' perspectives, vicariously, from our environment, our mistakes, and certainly when our emotions betray us. We must allow ourselves to allow others to enlighten us, grow our hearts, and liberate our inhibitions.
Allow me to introduce Donald Gould of Sarasota, Florida. Please take a moment to listen and ask yourself, "Would I have prejudged? Would I have offered an ear? Would I have allowed myself to allow him the time to show me what he is capable of and to see past his hardened exterior to learn about his heart, his story, and his desire for belongingness? We all have a place and want a home. The extension of grace. The growth of the heart.
"When he was younger, Gould played clarinet for the Marine Corps. After his service, he attended college in Michigan to study music education but ran out of money before he could finish. He worked other jobs and started a family, however his life changed when his wife died in 1998. Gould turned to substance abuse eventually losing his son to social services." Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/01/homeless-man-sarasota-keys-piano-project_n_7707814.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592
As we move forward and continue to make decisions that affect both our organization and community, please don't forget Mr. Gould and the lesson he shares. Given the right tools, the right support, the patience to allow for understanding, and the extension of grace to allow for our differences, greatness is possible.