Some of the most influential people I know do more than empathise with me. Empathy is important. But when it comes down it, what truly separates world-class influencers from manipulators?
One of the most acutely painful moments in my life made me quite vulnerable. I approached a man who was a leader. Len was also a great talker. He was ready with opinions on most things.
When I told him my news, he did something unexpected.
He wept with me.
Len is no longer with us, but I remember him with great fondness and deep appreciation, not least for that moment. For me, it was a defining moment. His compassion transcended his talk, his opinions, his wisdom. At that moment, he showed me great leadership. At that moment, I realised I needed something other than counsel and direction: I needed someone to walk with me in my pain.
I read this quote recently from Seth Godin:
"Empathy is not sufficient. Compassion is more useful because it's possible to talk to someone who is experiencing something that you've never experienced."
We cannot always expect to have had an experience similar others. And we can never expect to have had another's experience exactly.
Like empathy, there are examples that corrupt the meaning of the word compassion. But I leave it out there for you today.
Empathy + Compassion. This combination truly separates the forensic manipulator from the servant leader.