A More Serious Post, Pro-Friend

I am going to take the liberty to share my feelings about something that has taken up quite a bit of my thinking time lately. You may or may not know that October is Bully Prevention Month. The goal is bring more and more attention to a growing problem in our world today, bullying.

Instead of focusing on the actual topic of bullying or anti-bullying, I want to share what happens when we take a different approach. I will start by asking this question, what if we were more proactive in befriending others than reactive in bullying them?

Take sometime and really ponder this question, let it sink into your mind and heart. When you have done this, come back to finish reading the rest of this post.

We all want acceptance; we all want to know that there are others who care about us. We all need someone to talk too, someone who will listen without judging. In short, we all need a good friend or friends. It is important to understand that if this is what you want, then you need to be a good friend. This means that you will most likely need to be proactive in building relationships with others. This may not be normal or easy but it is necessary. If you sit back and wait, you will most likely be in a more reactive situation. When we are reactive, we tend to find ourselves in situations that are less than pleasant; this can be especially true when it comes to friends. I have to say; I do like that they use the word Bully Prevention rather than Anti-Bully for as it shows a more proactive approach.

I am truly heartbroken every time I hear, see or read about someone being bullied and the impacts that it has on them. On the flip side, I am overpowered with emotions of pride, joy and hope when I hear, see or read about someone who has overcome the torment of bullying. The truth is, bullying is devastating, for everyone involved.

I have been bullied, my siblings have been bullied, my friends have been bullied, there were times in my past where I actually bullied others, to be in with the popular kids. The impacts have painful to say the least. There has been heartbreak, sadness, loneliness, anger, frustration and even revenge. However, what I have come to realize is that the more proactive I have been in establishing friendships, the less bullying situations I have seen. See there is something that that happens when you extend a friendship, it eliminates the need to find fault, make fun of or hurt the other person. You can’t help but feel good as you become a friend to someone or you gain a new friend. Friends don’t let friends bully, or at least they shouldn’t.

I asked at the beginning of this post for you to ponder the question, what if we were more proactive in befriending others than reactive in bullying them? If our youth could really take this question to heart, we could see real change. We would begin to see situations where teenagers are no longer feeling like the only way out is to end their own life or rebel to the point of injuring others. We would see respect become a more dominant characteristic with our youth and adults. We would see situations of people extended their hand in genuine friendship and in turn, we would see a better world. The real challenge here is that talk is cheap. Actions truly do speak louder than words. There is no better time than right now for parents to encourage their teenagers to be more kind and loving towards others. There is no better time for youth to find ways to build friendships rather than judge what she is wearing or how overweight he is. This life is short and if we all cared enough about how others felt, we would then know a better, more productive world.

Since this blog is about leadership and finding the hero within us, I will close by saying that leaders don’t bully. Leaders find ways to be proactive in ensuring others feel included, that they do not feel left out. Leaders don’t find fault in ways that are going to hurt others. Leaders give strength, leaders help others feel empowered, leaders show courage, leaders stand up for others. To put it simply, leaders end up being heroes and heroes end up being leaders. Thus, this world needs more heroes.

I invite you to make it a priority this week to find some new friends. This does not mean you lose your current ones, it means you are adding new friends. I also invite you to become a friend to others. Be courageous and say hi to the new girl in your school or invite that boy that you noticed never talks with anyone to the football game. The rewards that come from you finding your inner hero are too numerous. What is the worst thing that can happen, you become a better person? Sounds like a risk worth taking.

 Be A Hero!

Don’t Burn Bridges

One of the things that many professionals overlook, especially when they are young in their career is the importance of not burning bridges. The concept of burning bridges refers to what can happen as you move from one opportunity to another one, you do so in a way that does not allow for there to be an opportunity with those you have associated with previously. This often happens as an employee leaves one company and is upset how they were treated. Their exit is accompanied by negative noise. When this happens a company will surely not allow that employee to return to work for them in the future.

When a decision is made to leave one opportunity to pursue another one it is in your best interest to do all you can to make the transition as professional as possible. You never know who you will need in the future or who will end up being your boss. Your ability to make a positive exit will pay huge dividends to you, your company and often those who you work with.

I have learned that leaving one company and going to another one can be one of the best personal and professional development opportunities of my life. I have made the decision to leave one company to go work for a competing company and everytime I have made this decision, I have done my best to leave with respect, professionalism and relationships intact. Here are some helpful hints for those that are or will be making important transitions:

1. Once you have made your decision, don’t apologize for the actual decision you have made. Your ability to be confident in your new opportunity will ensure respect with yourself, boss, co-workers and new company.

2. When you give two weeks, be willing to work out those two works and give it everything you’ve got. Stay focused.

3. Something I learned from my years in Boy Scouts, leave your position better than when you found it. Help ensure that the person coming behind you can pick-up where you left off and even do better. Put together transition notebooks, if you are lucky enough to spend time with your replacement, give them all the knowledge you can.

4. Don’t create company buzz about leaving. You need to be fair to your company and co-workers as they will be there when you leave. Keep things positive and focus on the great things about the company you are leaving. Let your company decide the best way to communicate your decision.

5. If possible, leave at the top of your game. Nothing is more powerful, empowering and respectful then leaving when you are at your best. This ensures that you will leave with a good relationship intact and in the chance that you need help in the future from your previous company or someone there, you have a much better chance of receiving it.

At the end of the day, leaving a company is never easy no matter what the situation might be. It may take extra effort to leave in a respectful and professional way but that extra effort will always be worth it. Don’t do anything that would burn bridges you just might need in the future. I know first hand that this is true. I have been re-hired by company’s I have left.

“Even Heroes will go through transitions. Heroes don’t burn bridges, they build them.”

Be A Hero!