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February 3, 2021

They say this is a two way street. But few speak about where it begins. We teach our kids about respecting our elders and others, but sometimes we fail to remind them of self respect.

Growing up, one of many lessons indoctrinated into my childhood revolved around respecting the elders. While there are some values that come with this upbringing, there are consequences too. I will not generalise the experiences but let’s see if you resonate with this. Let me break this down.

I was always taught that respect is to be given to another. The context always insinuated a gap of difference  – whether it’s age, status, etc. In the process of giving respect, somehow there was a little twist to it. I found myself extending such politeness that I tend to minus my presence. In that spur of moment, I am to be absent, for another to be acknowledged. Growing up, I somehow took notice of this habit and psychology; the helpless feeling of being dismissed, lack of confidence, inferior, never enough and the list goes on.

It took an incident at one of my previous workplaces to jolt me into an understanding that would eventually change the course of my life. It dawn on me – that I must first respect this that I am. I must first respect the life that flows through me. And from this sense of presence, I can truly extend an appreciation for another. At this point there was a clarity of conduct. The conduct of my own being, and the conduct of relating. My constant questions then used to be  – What is my conduct here? Is it acceptable? Can I live with it? I pushed boundaries, every day to acknowledge presence, first of my own then of the other.

Now, something to keep in mind. This is not in reference to an ego that craves for acknowledgement and attention. An ego’s point of reference is always about another’s view. This that I write, is about shifting that point of reference to one’s own view.

Years past and little did I know that I would have built companies and teams that work with individuals, clients and people from various walks of life. At a retreat last year, I got my team leads together to craft our set of guiding values that will shape the way we exist, grow and engage both internally and externally. Through the exercises we undertook, the phrase – RESPECT, FIRST – surfaced, and it became our first guiding value before all other 7 values. It is interesting how life takes you one full circle and brings you back to the fundamental of things.

So with just 2 words – RESPECT, FIRST – it establishes so much depth about how we can exist as an individual, a team and as a community. It first and foremost reminds us to respect ourselves. Before anyone, any work, any team mate or client – it demands us to be grateful for the breath that comes through. It demands us to honour our presence and may be inspire gratitude. This establishes the first clarity of conduct – The conduct of our own being. From this space, we now acknowledge another’s presence and engage with relationships around us. This is the second clarity of conduct – The conduct of relating.

Respect, first – is about acknowledging our humanity.
It is about acknowledging our individuality, our presence and well being.
Perhaps then, we’d recognise the same in another.
Respect, first – establishes a decorum with ourselves and with others.
It is the elimination of violence and abuse.
It governs how we relate with each other without being any lesser.
It governs synergy and what comes out of it.

It is what I strive to teach my son in many ways, everyday – to remember that he matters, so he may recognise that the other too, matters.
From one’s (or one) self worth to another –  perhaps then…we’d truly understand the value of respect.

Also published on Medium.

Managing Director at Live & Inspire. Work and life is one and the same for him. He builds businesses in his play and extends it to humanity. Writes on every day discoveries affecting his lifetime of conduct.

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