Martin Luther King Jr. at Washington Monument

Today is  Dr. Martin Luther King day.  A day we remember and honor him for his peaceful and hope-filled approach to conflict resolution.  His quote “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy” has resonated with me since I wrote my fourth grade biography book report on Dr. King.

I remember where I was sitting, and how I felt, as I read about Dr. Kings’ life and his influence – through peaceful means – on our country. His violent death seemed inconceivable, and of course frightening and tragic, to the nine-year-old little me.  It still does.

As a child, I was unusually dialed-in to what people around me were feeling. Especially when others were feeling belittled or embarrassed. Seeing those feelings arise in others was painful for me. I often jumped into what ever was happening, to clarify communication or information in a way that supported the one beginning to feel badly.  As a little girl, somehow I understood how quickly communication could go sideways and result in confusion, hurt feelings, and anger. I also understood once it went south, it was hard to get it back on track.

“On track” back then meant we could all have fun on the playground.  It meant we felt good as a group. We were free to create, laugh, and succeed with whatever was on the agenda right then.  It meant we had peace and the freedom to enjoy being ourselves.

Peace and freedom felt good to me, so I actively engaged in keeping it. That sensitivity to what others felt – and how I could impact them – stuck with me. In fact, what was intuitive as a child, I realize I have actively cultivated through academic studies, voracious reading, and professional practice, as an adult.

Here’s a truth: I have the power to positively impact the people around me. So do you.

This is particularly true when conflict arises and emotions run hot. Dr. Martin Luther King knew this truth and did not take it lightly. He demonstrated the possibilities and opportunities that can, and do, arise from conflict, when it is addressed from a place of hope and with the intention to move beyond it to a more productive, collaborative, place of peace.

Today is Martin Luther King Day.  Be alert. Notice what is happening with the people around you, and take advantage of the opportunities to have a positive impact.

If you are experiencing the ramifications of lingering conflict at work, call or email us today for a complimentary consultation and take real steps toward turning it into opportunity.

 

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