Okay just to be clear I’m not about to advocate that you go off and join the Peace Corps, or Doctors without Borders, although those are very admirable organizations. No, I want to encourage you to differentiate yourself by exhibiting a characteristic that is in very short supply these days: compassion. We hear about terrible aggressive acts: school shootings, mall violence, and mean spirited cruelty. We are confronted at every turn with random unkind acts.
A kindhearted and giving attitude is one of the best attributes you can display in your professional life. It means you’re open to sharing your expertise and knowledge with others, helping those less fortunate or less gifted. It also means that when confronted with another’s misfortune, you have a strong desire to remedy the situation and take action. Compassion is a state of mind that anticipates the needs of others. You will never forget about your own needs, or what you’ve suffered at the hands of others, but you can at least determine that this experience will make you sensitive to what others are going through.
At a recent job workshop, I was struck by the benevolence of the group as they were encouraged to participate in an interviewing exercise. People jumped in to help others with the aspects they were struggling with, and at the end many came away with a feeling of euphoria. All they had done was to share some tips or techniques, yet it was empowering.
Maya Angelou (1928-2014) passed away this week leaving us a legacy of her writings, her triumphs against many odds, but most of all her generosity of spirit and ability not to let her own adversity affect her interactions with others. How many of us having gone through similar experiences, could have taken them and expressed them in a way that brought healing and faith to others. Angelou once wrote "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style." And so this great lady encourages us to contemplate how we too can exhibit the kind of caring and compassion that she showed throughout her life.
Take a look at how you handle your contacts, your friends, your colleagues. Are you demonstrating your compassion for their situation? Even when you yourself are job searching, or unhappy in your current role, can you write a recommendation, forward a request for a contact to someone you know who going through. That commiseration with others is an attribute that can distinguish you in your career quest. When someone reaches out to you for a suggestion, do you react with kindness, indulgence? Giving them that gift of your time or your patience can make the very difference in their experience. Sure, I know searching for the right job is hard, but if you go at it with generosity it will make all the difference not only in you, but how your personal brand is perceived.