I’ve got a longer post written on the issue of what I call ‘the proximity problem’ within organisations that I’ll release next year. For now I have this.
When my mother had late stage cancer her spine was hugely weak. She risked a broken back or ribs with any small collision. She also had poor balance due to the impact of her treatment. Walking with her around a city or town centre, or when using public transport, I used to be hugely protective of her and furious with the people who would jostle and push just to get somewhere faster. I formed the best protective barrier I could.
I also became far more aware of the difficulties people have moving around in public spaces. I became more tolerant of missing a tube because I was held up by someone walking slowly through a tunnel. I accepted and was aware that I should never be in such a rush as to see other people as simply impediments to my progress.
My mother passed away two years ago and I’m aware of that intolerance and lack of awareness creeping back into me. Impatience and frustration take its place.
The lack of proximity to the the problem – through distance or time causes lack of understanding to grow and for empathy to fail.
I’m a worse person for not appreciating the struggles of people – whether in the bustle of a crowd or an organisation – more keenly.
So the next time you feel frustration with progress or people, just try and imagining how you would feel if they were the people that mattered most to you, rather than on the fringes of your awareness.
And check out #hrrandomactsofkindness too