I met a former boss of mine for coffee recently. And I thanked him for this.
Many years ago, I was in my boss’s office for my annual review. He was very diplomatic and shared that he was happy with my work. When he asked me, “Do you have any questions?” By nature, I am big on adding the word self between the words –“constant improvement”. So, I replied — “Could you share with me some specific areas of improvement that can shape my personal growth?”
He leaned back in his chair, paused a moment and said — “That is a fair request, but first the low hanging fruit, are you aware of your strengths?” I said sure, and rattled off a few. He patiently listened and said- “those are some generic strengths, quite common among many folks. Do you know your strengths that naturally propel you?” I gave him a puzzled look.
In the next few minutes, he shared with me some of my nuanced strengths and backed it up with small detail examples where he noticed them. He felt that these strengths were natural for me but were rare, based on his observations of other people.
In this day and age, when people are more focused on holding to good employees, he let go of his positional power by sharing some of my best-kept secrets that I was unaware of until then and in the process gained relationship power. That conversation, impacted me profoundly — if a glass of water is a metaphor — I had been thirsty to figure out the empty part of my glass and here was an experience where I learnt more about the filled portion of the glass — that I had taken for granted.
People Leadership and the Art of Giving
Since that day, I have trained myself to look for specific examples that demonstrate natural strength of people that are uncommon. You will be surprised how much goodness you will observe. Sharing that back with them has been one of my most fulfilling demonstrations of the essence of giving — what is of great value to others but less cost to you.
In this process, I have had the privilege of knowing the best multitasker under stress scenarios, the best synthesizer of complex thoughts, the radiator of positive energy and many more.
In summary, differences are easy to spot- human eye is trained to look for areas of improvement in others. Let us take the time to train ourselves to spot people’s inherent treasures — treasures that are so good they do not even realize their own God-given gift, which is rare in the general populace.
As a fellow human and well wisher, I find this the most full filling and meaningful endeavor — people are treasures and their innate strengths are bigger treasures still, worthy of sharing and celebrating.
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P.S. I shared this with my former boss recently over coffee - the radiance on his face is etched in my memory. I felt great driving back home that day.
There is only one thing better than the path he showed me — the genuine feeling of gratitude. I always felt it — that coffee day was special — I let him know in person. His reaction in words was simple, “You are welcome.” The pause before those simple words spoke volumes.
That human connectivity taught me something precious.
Whether we are a boss or an employee, a parent or a child — first and foremost, we are human.