Freedom is a great thing to celebrate. During this time of global terrorism, I am very thankful for the freedom available in the United States and the men and women who sacrifice to protect that freedom. There are of course enemies of freedom. There are people groups who don’t believe freedom is a virtue, they take great offense to freedom. These enemies of freedom are building forces and working hard to attack the freedom other nations have. Some do this in the name of religion, others out of spite or anger. Regardless of the motivation their offense is very real to them and it brings unrest and lack of peace. You might say that this offense is the enemy of freedom. As true as this is on a global scale, it is also very true in your life. We carry offenses against people and those offenses cause relational unrest and lack of peace. Those offenses we carry are very personal enemies of our own freedom and impact the environment and the lives around us.
Has anyone ever wronged you? Of course. Take ten seconds and think about someone who has wronged you. That person is either your neighbor or someone you work with or even live with. Let’s consider the person at work who offended you in some way. There is tension in the relationship. This tension may seem benign but is exactly the thing that will steal your freedom at work. Not only will it steal your freedom, but because of your leadership and influence, it will steal freedom from the whole team. Your team will be less free to work with the person you are offended with. If that other person is another leader in the organization then this offense can remove freedom from the whole team’s ability to interact with the different teams. This really takes away from the organization’s ability to function at the high level that is required for success.
There are some things you can do with offense and some things you shouldn’t do. In part one of this post, we dig into the three behaviors to avoid. The first is not to blow up. I have seen leaders do this, I have done this. When you blow up, you are usually not alone. As you blow up, you spread your offense. Think of Yosemite Sam trying to get bugs bunny. He straps dynamite to his chest and when the rabbit gets near he’s going to blow him up. Really? Sam, that’s not going to work out too well for you are anyone in proximity of you. Blowing up causes a lot of collateral damage which makes it much harder to clean up.
Second thing not to do is gossip. Blowing up spreads the poison of offense deeply but only near by, gossip can be very far reaching. I found this riddle that pretty much sums it up: Who am I? I break hearts and ruin lives. I’m cunning and malicious and get stronger with age. The more I’m quoted, the more I’m believed. Once I damage a reputation, it’s never the same. I make headlines and headaches. I spawn suspicion and grow grief. I maim marriages and kill careers. Even my name hisssses. Who am I? The answer: GOSSIP. Gossip can happen in the cafeteria or over lunch but in our corporate worlds, it happens mostly in email. Gossip is when the conversation involves more people than are physically or digitally involved in the conversation. If you need to talk about someone, make sure they are included in the conversation.
The final not to do item is do not minimize the offense. If someone offends you and you shrug it off, you may be doing more damage than the previous two we reviewed. It may not seem like it. You might be thinking that you’re not going to blow up or gossip so it should be fine right. If offense only happened once or twice in your lifetime, then maybe this would work. The truth is it happens almost every day, at least weekly. Add these offenses up and well, think of a nice bottle of Pepsi or Coke someone gives you after they shook it up for 30 seconds. There’s gonna be a nice explosion with a very small and inconsequential twist of the cap. These offenses will eventually have to be dealt with. If not done in a timely manner it could be disastrous.
In part two of this post we will talk about what you can do to deal with offense and turn them into relational and organizational assets.