Can Forgiveness in Leadership Be Empowering for All?

Leadership and ForgivenessAs many of my long-standing readers know, I have been on a soulful journey for many months now – focused on personal growth – and I spend time each morning focusing on letting go of what may be holding me back. A few weekends ago I spent a lot of time focused on forgiveness – of those who have hurt me, largely unintentionally, and of myself for mistakes I’ve made along the way.

In this process I read the soulful and deeply insightful words of my wise friend that she wrote specifically about forgiveness:

Think of a hurt that you have experienced that you are still carrying around. The one that shows up in conversation, or in your moods. The one that creeps into your memory, and pinches your heart. The one that you carry, many times in deep hidden places of your body. The one that makes you eat, cry, or angry. Or simply the one you don’t even remember.

That one! That creates wonder and questioning of its presence. The one that is still attached to you. It is time to clear it out.

Just reading these few words left me riveted and I asked myself if I had any “hurts” deep within me that I needed to let go of. The answer that quickly revealed itself to me came from a place deep within – a “hurt” from many years ago that nearly buckled my knees when I remembered it. I was overwhelmed by the realization that not only had I never forgiven this person, I had actually never allowed myself to face the pain I had felt – it had been entirely suppressed within me.

I went on to read these words…

How many times have you heard about forgive but DON’T forget? To forgive involves the release of energy-draining emotions of  hurt, disappointment, anger and many times resentment. These are emotions that hinder our livelihood, our well-being and peace. Never to forget, allows the attachment and energy of those emotions to continue living with us.

So today I want to introduce you to a higher form of forgiveness, One that clears your slate to empowerment and renewal. To Forgive & To Forget.

Releasing & Purifying your attachment to the emotions, that no longer serve you. Empowering yourself with self awareness, so that you don’t Allow it to happen again. Notice how I have said ‘Allow,’ placing you in control of yourself and not a victim to circumstance.

When we truly practice forgiveness, we simply let go. Now we all know that it is easier said than done, right? However, when we do finally let go of the other person, or the emotions that are causing uneasiness, there is this divine feeling of release, a healing, an inner peace and connection to self that is present.

In taking this action, we now contribute to helping others to keep our lives free of the dirt and litter that block our consciousness, our minds and hearts of the stream and peace of happiness that can flow through us all…

Forgiveness is the surest route to your inner self. It creates that special place in your heart for your Soul to shine.

Having read this passage I set about writing words of forgiveness. Words that would release the attachment that I’ve had to these emotions, an attachment that was buried deep within me for so long.  To say that my soul felt lighter after this experience would be an understatement!

Forgiveness in Leadership

Later that evening as I found myself in a sea of Christmas presents, wrapping paper and bows, I turned on the TV to catch up on politics (a personal love of mine) by watching the Republican Presidential Debate while I wrapped gifts.

I was struck by the response Newt Gingrich gave to a question about whether infidelity should be considered by voters when electing a President. His response included the words, “I’ve had to go to God for forgiveness.”

Now, please don’t read this with any political lens because there is absolutely none…I was simply struck by the fact that forgiveness was being discussed in the context of leadership on a national scale. Given my own personal experience that day, it felt incredibly poignant.

Following the debate, ABC News analysts discussed whether voters would find it in their hearts to forgive Gingrich, and it left me wondering how often followers look within themselves to forgive their leaders. We don’t talk about it much, do we?

Given the powerful words I’d read earlier in the day, “Forgiveness is the surest route to your inner self. It creates that special place in your heart for your Soul to shine,” I wondered what the world would look like if we as leaders asked for forgiveness, and forgave, more readily. I wondered if we could genuinely do this from a place of empowerment that prevents us from being victims of circumstance, but enables us all to travel our True Paths more powerfully.

What do you think?

~

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RELATED POSTS:

Inspiration for Letting Go of What Holds You Back

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Photo is Asking for Forgiveness by hang_in_there.

Comments

  1. Many years ago, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. She had been having symptoms that were disregarded by her gyn. By the time another physician actually determined that she did indeed have ovarian cancer, it was too far advanced to cure or even attempt to cure. With that said-I was VERY angry. And, I carried that with me for a long time. Before my mother passed away, she quietly looked at me one day and said…”you need to forgive and let that anger go. It will eat yu up inside if you let it.”
    I have never forgotten those words, and I guess I thought that if she could forgive, so could I. Forgiving lightens the heart and the burden. To carry resentment is like carrying a heavy load of bricks and it keeps us from totally being free. Yes, we would all be better leaders-more giving, more caring, more open minded and more creative. Thank you for pointing that out.

    • Susan,

      I am so sorry to hear of your heart-breaking experience and loss. Such a tragic story…it would be very difficult for many of us to forgive and let go. Your mother was clearly wise, strong and profoundly loving to see this and to share it with you so that you could live your life *fully* once she had passed away. Thank you for sharing the beauty of this with all of us. Wishing you a very blessed holiday season…

  2. Powerful piece Lisa. I have been drawn to your name on twitter, two days in a row. Yesterday, for your RT about Dan Rockwell and this amazing post on forgiveness. Thank you. Forgiveness is something I can not read enough about. It really is “The Greatest Healer of All” like the title of Gerald Jampolsky’s incredible book. That book and many things that happened around that time changed my life. I too, was struggling with forgiveness of a particular person and myself, for many things I had done. This quote: “Forgiveness is letting go of all hopes for a better past” really hit me between the eyes. It was like I had permission to forgive myself and this other person. I continued to pray about it for some time. I was free from the bondage of self and this awful resentment I had.

    When we hold on to resentments and hate, we are only hurting ourselves. Like someone said, it’s like we drink the poison and expect the other person to die. Its not worth it. Forgive. Let go. Move on. Embrace & Enjoy this wonderful life you have been given.

    Thanks again Lisa, for this great topic and allowing me to ramble. Take CARE.

    Al
    Al Smith´s last blog post ..A Trip of Gratitude & CARE

    • Al,

      That was far from rambling…that was a beautiful reflection that allowed us to travel a bit of your journey with you. Thank you for that blessing, and for finding me. It’s a pleasure to have you here and I hope to see you often in the future! All the best for a joyous, light-filled holiday season!

  3. You’re so right, Lisa. “To err is human, to forgive divine.” Once again you’ve written an article that applies in every human situation and that resonates especially with my faith in God. Thanks also to Susan, whose story is a marvelous reminder that forgiveness is good for the forgiven and even better for the forgiver.

    As leaders, when we forgive our followers we free them to perform to their true potential. We free ourselves from stress and from the negative thinking that limits what we can accomplish as leaders.

    • Larry,

      Thank you for your kind words and for so eloquently stating why it’s important for us as leaders to forgive… You and I seem to be in the same energy! Wishing you all the joy of the holiday season.

  4. Hi Lisa:

    I too grew up with “forgive, don’t forget” and as for the latter… it may just be that’s how this Italian-American boy was raised, but I think the idea of not forgetting is so it doesn’t happen to you again, and by the same person.

    People get hurt, and we hurt people, it happens as we’re not perfect. Even if we do forgive, sometimes its best to literally move on from it, and the change in venue will do us wonders. If we ever do re-enter that old venue where we were hurt, recalling what happened shouldn’t take us down, rather it should remind us of the experience so we can see a similar experience coming again from a mile away.

    At least that’s how I see it, but I do reserve the right to let things stew for a little bit when I do get hurt. :)

    mp/m
    Mike Maddaloni – @thehotiron´s last blog post ..Google Reader Wants Your Favicon To Brand Your Blog

    • Mike,

      As a fellow Italian-American I certainly understand the emotion, and I should be clear that by forgiving and forgetting I’m certainly not implying that we deny or suppress our emotions. That was my problem for so many years. When you say “stew” I think you’re referring to working through the emotions to the place where you are ready to let them go – which is the forgetting. The forgetting is the release so that the emotions are no longer held within you…and the forgiving allows any future experience with the individual to be free of negative energy. Thank you so much for taking the time to share with me here – I really appreciate it!

  5. Henry Motyka says:

    I’ve heard it said when you don’t forgive you are the loser. It hurts you. I don’t need to say anything more.

  6. Hi Lisa. Thank you for this wonderful article! Forgiveness must be a theme that’s resonating with several of us in the leadership arena. Just this past Sunday I wrote a blog article about the role of forgiveness in rebuilding trust (http://leadingwithtrust.com/2011/12/18/rebuilding-trust-starts-with-forgiveness/). Without forgiving ourselves and others we get bogged down with so much extra baggage that limits our future growth and potential. Thanks for the great reminder of the power of forgiveness.

    Best regards ~ Randy
    Randy Conley´s last blog post ..Rebuilding Trust Starts With Forgiveness

    • Thank you for such kind words, Randy, and I guess we’re all on the same page right now…perhaps the holidays have us all reflecting? And I couldn’t agree with you more that when we don’t forgive ourselves we limit our personal growth and potential. I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to be here and share your thoughts. Wishing you all the joy of the holidays!

  7. First off I want to say superb blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your head prior to writing. I’ve had a hard time clearing my mind in getting my ideas out there. I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints? Thank you!
    Brenda´s last blog post ..build trust and authority

  8. Greg Hartle says:

    I’m pleased that you continue to bring important topics to leadership that mostly go unnoticed or are rarely discussed.

    Forgiveness = personal power. We are a conduit of energy. Therefore, energy that it takes to repress is the same energy that cannot be available for developing to the next stage of our potential.

    It’s critical to exercise forgiveness not only for ourselves, but to maximize our potential for serving others.

    Be well, Lisa.

  9. Great post Lisa, and likewise awesome insight from the comments. Not trying to be devils advocate here but I have heard from so many leaders to never apologize for your mistakes to your subordinates so likewise I think the se would be applicable at least for them to forgive? I never broached or question this theory of thought, and woul only assume the same train of thought would apply to forgiveness, at least I’m the professional venue. I have no problem or issue with this on personal situations. I have on fact apologized and forgiven on personal situations while apologizing professionally and have sends relief as well as heater respect from peers. Thoughts?

  10. The fact that you share this rather personal experience makes this a great post. Thank you. I believe you touches on an important factor in not only personal growth, but personal freedom as well. When we don’t forgive people who hurt us, we limit ourselves in our potential can can never really live free until we let go of the hurt or anger and truly forgive.

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