Power, manliness, fighting spirit, confidence, driven – these are all attributes that our society tends to associate with “successful” people. Scores of movies & TV dramas indicate this thought process; but sadly, a scan of any day’s news headlines will show us how this too often goes wrong.
Power is too often abused, calls to manliness too often refer to being tougher than the next person, a fighting spirit too often results in conflict that only causes harm and not growth, confidence too often manifests as narcissism & ego-centric behavior, and driven people too often run over others on their way to self-defined success.
May I call your attention to the attribute of Gentleness? This is one of the ten attributes I have called out from my experience and study that I believe indicate people that are successful. You get to define success, I only want to suggest that it involves you being as healthy as possible physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.
Gentleness, according to merriam-webster.com, is “the quality or state of being gentle, especially mildness of manners or disposition”. Among the titles listed in my bio you can see pastor, finance executive, mentor, husband, and father. I can assure you that in each of those capacities, there were instances when my manners and disposition did NOT display the quality of mildness. I can equally assure you that I cannot recollect a single instance when this resulted in a positive outcome. Thankfully, I have learned the better path of gentleness and have sought to practice this and turn away from a path of harshness.
Abusive power results in fear; gentle power results in respect. Respect gained results, then, in power. It is this cycle of life-giving behavior that will ensure your success and the success of those in your sphere of influence. And by the way, you have a sphere of influence even if you are unaware. Influence does not come only from high position or title; it comes from your every interaction with every other person. The question is, will your manners & disposition result in fear or respect? (Replace fear in that statement, possibly, with disdain, anger, or apathy. The point is that living in a way that garners respect is living a life of integrity – and this is the path to success.)
A gentle person is successful precisely because they properly use power, they exert influence over others for the others’ good, their fighting spirit allows them to overcome obstacles on behalf of those who would otherwise give up, their confidence manifests itself as the humility to accept input & help, and their drive compels them to help others find their way to success.
I encourage you to take a moment to look past the stereotypical person with power, and to look past the news headlines of yet another scandal of abused power. Take a moment – today and every day – to notice that there are people around you that display gentleness in the way they lead, the way they follow, in the very way they live. These, you will find, are the truly successful people. Join them with me.
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