At a recent memorial service, I said a final good-bye to Hannah. An artist, she taught ceramics in her home studio for many years. I recalled what I saw then—incredible patience, tolerance, and joy as her students selected a statue, a jar, an ornament; colors; and textures. Some of her students excelled, winning numerous awards. Others created imperfect pieces that continue to adorn many, many homes, including my own. At the service, what I most recalled about Hannah in her studio was the atmosphere she created. She allowed all—the young, old, talented, struggling, talkative, silent, compulsive, confused—to be, to do, and to create what was possible for them.
I thought about Hannah during a workshop last week in which a group of participants worked through some of the activities in Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal. We explored the question, “What types of obstacles do you face on your road to success?” The conversation focused on getting others to see us as a whole person, a human being who is capable, qualified, and well-equipped to do the task! Hannah was a pro at seeing and encouraging others!
True, if we want others to see us favorably, we need to do our part to influence and evoke a favorable impression by demonstrating and conveying our value and worth. Yet the only impression we control is the one we make in our own minds and hearts.
So, let us not become an obstacle to others’ success. We can start by seeing others as they are and could yet become. Let us look beyond our own projections and prejudices and do our part to understand and value those with whom we interact. Let us see their abilities, their competencies, their strengths, their achievements, and their potential. Let us provide opportunities for other human beings—flawed and imperfect as they are—to grow and thrive. After all, is that not what we want for ourselves?
Life is funny. We must be willing to give away that which we hope to receive.