A story related by my daughter Emma while volunteering in Israel.
Unbenounced to me, I had booked tickets for the high Holy weeks in Israel. For those of you not familiar with Judaism, some of the most sacred holidays happen in the fall. Imagine multiple Fourth of Julys happening several weeks in a row in Texas. This was the volume of the celebrations taking place one week after the next in Jerusalem that season.
I worked in a hostel in the center of the city. We lived in a lean-to shack on the roof of the hostel. The breakfast shift was always manned by two volunteers. The new Brazilian girl and I were scheduled for the shift. It was probably the only morning I’d forgotten to set an alarm. I woke up thirty minutes late, missing the busiest part of the shift serving 120 people breakfast.
I headed to the rooftop kitchen to find a fuming Brazilian. Her name was Kamila and she’d just joined our crew. I apologized multiple times but she was still angry at me. Rather livid, actually.
To say the least it wasn’t a great start. Eager to make amends I made an extra effort in the following days to help her out on her projects. We became fast friends and the event soon went under the bridge.
To be sure this isn’t always how miscommunications turn out for me, but I came to find out weeks later that she had been super intimidated by me and often found herself overreacting and angered by people that intimidate her.
Had I continued to let her overreaction anger me things would have never turned out the way they did.
Kamila, to this day, is a close friend.
This story may seem too good to be true. Maybe you’re thinking, “Yeah, that’s great in the dreamland of Israel, but things are different in the workplace.”
True that it’s not Israel, but in the words of my daughter after a recent volunteer trip, “Honestly, I have found that maybe languages change and cultural biases exist, but people are people, and everyone has the same basic needs and a huge amount of those needs are social.”
Your challenge this past week was to be the first one to the playing field to smooth the waters when offense is taken or given.
If there’s been a failure to communicate, an offense taken or made, I hope you’ll be the first one to make reparations.
I’ll say it again: Leadership isn’t about being right, it’s getting the right thing done. The right thing is always fixing and moving forward when an offense is made or taken.
This is a game changer. Don’t let pride get in the way.