Monday, November 7, 2016

Why Harvard Business Review Thinks Forgiveness is So Important

The 2-step process that helps every leader

(To get the most out of this important subject, please read last week’s blog.)

Harvard Business review has many articles and an entire issue devoted to forgiveness. Scientists have discovered that lack of forgiveness (of yourself or of others) leads to “psychopathology.” Don’t be scared of such a big word, it’s actually quite simple. The root word pathology means “the study of sickness or disease.” Therefore “psycho” pathology has to do with the study of mental illness. Fact: Forgiving others is absolutely necessary for optimal mental health. Lack of forgiveness is a BIG cause of psychopathology!

Why is forgiveness so hard? Because when you say, “I forgive you,” you are really saying, “I’ll pay the price for your wrong, even though you are the one who is at fault.”

Wait. What?

Think about every act of forgiveness the world has every known . . . in each case when someone truthfully said, “I forgive you,” it meant that the offender was wrong, and the forgiver had to pay the price for the hurt caused by the sin or mistake. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. But when I say that I forgive you, I’m saying, “The debt is paid for... and I’m choosing to pay the price.”

The 2-Step Process that Helps Every Leader

  1. Search your heart to see where unforgiveness still lingers. Perhaps you haven’t forgiven a family member, or a friend, or an enemy (or yourself!). I find it best to have a paper and pen to record thoughts and ask, “Is there something here that I need to forgive?” Then comes the killer follow-up question: “Am I willing to do so?”
  2. Make the choice to forgive. Choosing to forgive–this is where the magic happens. You choose to lay down the burden that you’ve been carrying. If needed, get counseling! Do not let someone’s evil behavior cause you internal bitterness. Unforgiveness becomes toxic, silently seeping into our hearts and minds. (If there is a God in heaven, and I believe there is, the unrepentant offender is going to pay–but you should not be paying the price right now. Choose to forgive!)

A “neighborhood kid” sexually assaulted a very close friend of mine when she was young. My friend told me that she could never forgive him for what he had done. Finally, she saw the truth: her molester probably hasn’t given the assault a second thought since it happened almost 20 years ago. Yet she had been carrying the daily pain for many years. Until the great and painful day when she chose to forgive. She did this in her room, by herself, then she cried for hours. Slowly the burden dissipated and her joy returned. It was a difficult process that was “absolutely worth it.”

THE BOTTOM LINE: John Maxwell said the most difficult assignment that he has ever had is that of leading himself. I agree. Leading myself to choose forgiveness (and mean it) is especially hard. But it can and must be done if I’m going to be my best me. I have practiced forgiveness throughout the years and it’s worth it. I could never go back to carrying all that pain. Search your heart... then make the choice. It will be worth it.

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