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Dare to Care state I was already in. “What does this letter mean?” I asked Mac. Again in that accent of his he said, “M-a-h-k, it means you’ve been kicked out and you agreed to it.” “I don’t remember agreeing to anything, and I don’t even know what the cello thing is about,” I replied dumbfounded. “I knew that M-a-h-k, I know that you’re not clear enough to agree to anything,” Mac said with a mixture of kindness, humor and a huge dollop of understanding. I couldn’t look at Mac. Instead I felt the air go out of me as if I had been shot in the stomach (and I know that feeling having suffered a perforated colon 35 years later that required life-saving surgery), paused for about thirty seconds and then my eyes filled up and just started to cry. It was perhaps the greatest fortune in my life that I didn’t react with sarcasm (something I was fully capable of in my pre-mindless days) or with “woe is me” self-pity. I think if I had, it would have made me less than someone anyone would want to help. Instead I was 100 % pure grade vulnerable and communicated that with all of my being. I had to pause before I wrote the following, because even now forty-one years later it still emotionally overtakes me. I came from somewhat of a stern background and one in which I would be very reticent to show vulnerability especially in a completely raw form. So I was completely unprepared for what Mac said next: “M-a-h-k. You didn’t screw up. I mean you are miraculously passing (which was why they couldn’t flunk me out), but you are very screwed up. But I have a suspicion that if you got unscrewed up, that one day this school would be glad it gave you a second chance.” His kindness was so palpable, even now I can feel it, that I couldn’t look at him. All I could do was look down and feel this IV drip of safety and cry even more. It must be similar to the way someone feels who is in unbearable pain at the end of their life and what they feel when placed on a morphine drip. “In fact M-a-h-k, even if you don’t finish medical school or become a doctor or even do another thing, I would be proud to know someone like you, because you have goodness and kindness and you have no idea how important and how much the world needs that (I couldn’t fathom anyone thinking I was worth anything if I couldn’t do anything and only because of some quality they saw inside me). And you won’t know it until you’re 35, but first you have to make it until you are 35 (the tears were then pouring out like an ocean… just as they are now as I retell this to you). And one last thing, M-a-h-k and please look at me!” Tear filled to their limits, my eyes were a blur as I looked at Mac. “One last thing, you deserve to be on this planet M-a-h-k, do you understand me?” (tear city again). Then Mac did something that would change my life forever. He said in no uncertain terms, “M-a-h-k you are going to let me help you!” I think he also sensed that if he had not been so forceful and had merely said, “If I can help you call me,” that I would have instead withdrawn into my apartment and never called. Now to retrofit that story with Warren’s quote, I think that what Mac did was notice that I was feeling helpless, hopeless, worthless, useless and probably sensed that once I immersed myself in those I would probably move on to feeling that life was meaningless and pointless. But I didn’t move onto those darker feelings. And why didn’t I? Because Mac not only noticed what was going on with me, he committed himself in actions to stand up for me, stand by me and stand up to me if I slipped into actually believing there was no point in going on. BTW I met Mac about ten years later after I had finished medical school, psychiatric training and was successfully and effectively helping others, many of whom were suicidal. I asked him why he had gone so out of his way to help me as he had which included his standing up for me to people much more powerful than him. He simply smiled and said, “M-a-h-k, thirty years ago, someone did it for me and all I have wanted to do was pay it forward and help people like you.” In my own simple way I guess I’ve been trying to also “pay forward” what Mac did for me. Ironically, I had the chance to do it in a very minor way with Warren in recent years when he was reflecting on his career. I was having lunch with Warren and Peter Whybrow, Chairman of the UCLA Department of Psychiatry. Towards the end of the meal Warren looked up with a pained expression on his face.  He said, “I’ve been in the field of leadership for more than fifty years.  Some will even say that I started it and yet, leaders are worse than ever.  Maybe I didn’t do such a great job.” That greatly bothered me.  After I returned to my office I emailed Warren, “You have more control over trying and quitting than you do over the results.  Because you never gave up, I know that the world is much better for your having been in it.  I know that because I am much better for your being in my life.” Between my being blessed by an Angel that certainly changed and possibly saved my life and the pain I felt when dear, cherished and deeply missed Warren thought he hadn’t done enough, I was compelled to co-found Heartfelt Leadership to identify, celebrate, develop, empower, embolden new leaders that dare to care and honor past ones like Dean McNary and Warren Bennis who spent a lifetime doing it. What can you notice that matters to the people you care most about and what can you do in action vs. words to help make what matters to them better? In fact what can you notice that matters to people who are hurting that you don’t even know and what can you do in action vs. words to help that hurt? Winston Churchill once said something like: “The measure of a civilization is how it treats people who have hurt it.” Maybe that should be amended with: “and how it treats people who are hurting in it.” What if each of us did that one person, one conversation and one action at a time? Imagine the possibilities. PE Mark Goulston is a prominent psychiatrist and consultant, speaker, trainer and coach to major organizations. His book, Just Listen, ranked #1 in six Amazon/Kindle categories, has been translated into 14 languages, reached #1 in Munich and Shanghai, and became the basis of a 2010 PBS special. He is also the Co-Founder, Co-Curator and Co-Guardian of Heartfelt Leadership, an effort to bring more humanity and ultimately more profit to the workplace. Email mgoulston@markgoulston.com Visit www.markgoulston.com Follow @MarkGoulston Personal Excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 11.2014 Submit your Articles 7


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