Here’s a sensational story that is sticking with me in a good way…
Being a fan of underdogs, I was delighted and teary watching Susan Boyle blow away the skeptics in the “Britain’s Got Talent” semifinals last month. You’ve probably seen the YouTube video a million times by now, or caught Ms. Boyle on one of her many interviews.
Arriving on stage at BGT, she was immediately discounted and disrespected – with rolling eyes and snickers from the judges and audience – because of her frumpy appearance. But man, did she prove us wrong with her soaring voice! Goes to show that vocal chords have nothing whatsoever to do with hair and makeup. But we knew that, didn’t we…Didn’t we?
Flash forward a few weeks: I’m realizing that there are Susan Boyles all around me. At work, for instance, there are people who’ve written children’s books, are actresses, composers and ballroom dance competitors. Going a bit deeper in my daily conversations I catch glimpses of previously unseen dreams and passions in colleagues I’ve been with for years. Who knew? Full, whole, creative, authentic people everywhere! Including the office!
More importantly, I also become more aware of the immediate judgments that cause us to prematurely dismiss others. Last week I needed input from someone who seems flighty and disorganized. Come to find out that her Mom was recently diagnosed with cancer. My colleague has been juggling the care for her Mom around work and her own child’s needs. What I experienced is not incompetence – a conclusion I was too close to drawing. It’s exhaustion, preoccupation and grief held below the surface and out of context in a work environment. I remember the snap judgments made of Susan and appreciate even more the lesson she brings.
Look below the surface with your colleagues this week. What new things do you learn to appreciate about the people in your life?
When have you made snap judgments about someone? Examine your assumptions. What is true about that person’s situation?
PS: The BGT final with Susan Boyle will be blogged live at live.stv.tv on Saturday, May 30th.