by John Baldoni
“Stop!” the man shouted. “Don’t go down those steps.”
I was bravely (or more accurately, stupidly) trying to inch my way down icy steps leading to a parking lot where my wife had parked her car after a scary spin down the long driveway. It was the morning after our town had just been hit by a wicked ice storm. Streets and walkways were slick with ice.
“I’ll come get you,” the man shouted. And moments later he pulled up alongside me and I climbed in for a 35-yard trip back up the road and down the driveway. He drove me to my car and instructed me how to get back up the hill. Following his instructions to hew to the center path, I was able to get the car back up the road.
The man who gave me a ride was being neighborly, and in doing so, he was acting with what I like to call “grace.”
Grace is the antidote to the bickering and backbiting we find all around us. While there is much ugliness in the world, if you dwell on it too long you will likely feel discouraged. Take heart, there are legions of women and men who are making the world, beginning with one person at a time, a better place.
It is their example that led me to write GRACE: A Leader’s Guide to a Better Us. Grace, by my definition, is the catalyst for the “greater good.” For some the greater good may lie in changing the culture of their organization; for others it means spending one evening a month tutoring kids in how to read. The greater good is something that makes a positive difference in the lives of others. Greater good, therefore, becomes something you define, and by doing so, opens the door for you to enter.
Finding your moment of grace requires a degree of mindfulness, that is, using the moment to guide you to your next step. It starts with small things. At work, for example, look for opportunities to serve a colleague better. Such service begins with listening. Not to interfere, but to understand. And if that knowledge reveals a need, offer assistance. Not as a meddler, but as a collaborator.
Likewise, if you feel that you are mistreated or disrespected, do not react with the negative emotion you received. Act on the good you know you have inside you. Rise above the moment. Turn the moment where you felt disgraced into a moment of grace.
Grace, by nature, is a simple notion.
It is a fusion of altruism and action. Grace is our capacity to turn the goodness within us into something good for others. By that token, grace is giving. As we practice it we feel better about those around us and we feel better about ourselves.
Grace is generative. The more you feel it, the more you do. At the same time, grace is not a mandate; it is an invitation. You do what you can do when you can do it. What you do when you do it is your call. Time and inclination are your prerogatives.
Finding your grace may make you feel better about yourself, but that’s not the intention. Grace manifests itself in the impact you have upon others. Grace lies there and it is up to us to find it.
John Baldoni is a globally recognized executive coach and leadership educator. Inc.com ranked John a Top 50 Leadership Expert and Top 100 leadership speaker. Trust Across America awarded John its Lifetime Achievement award for Trust and Global Gurus ranked him No. 9 on its list of Top 30 leadership experts. John is the author of 14 books, including GRACE: A Leader’s Guide to a Better Us.