Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Forgiveness, Tolerance and Understanding

A few years ago, I was at a conference for executives in one of those technically high-powered industries. The ballroom was filled with some of the crème de la crème. The moderator announced the next sessions and gave some very simple instructions. "Those whose last names start with the letters A through M will go to room 201, just down the hall and around the corner. Your facilitator will be Jackie Smith. Those with the last names starting with N through Z will go to room 224, just down the hall. Your facilitator will be Ted Brown." (I think the ballroom had a designation of Room 240-250.)

I went to my appropriate room. Our facilitator wasn't there yet. As more people started to filter through the doors, I noticed from their conference badges that their last names were in the earlier part of the alphabet. (Mine is in the latter half.) Soon, Jackie Smith entered and started to set up her laptop for the breakout session. More "early alphabet-ters" entered and started finding seats. Ted came into the room with a few minutes to spare, saw Jackie and asked, "Jackie, was there a room change?" "No," she replied.

"Well, your room is down further and around the corner: Room 201," he pointed out.

"Oops," she replied. Grabbing her materials, she hurried out the door trailed by 50 executives.

Now if nearly half of a crowd of high-powered executives can really screw up on simple instructions given but a few minutes before they were asked to execute them, I hope they find that they have lots of patience, understanding how people can make "dumb" mistakes, tolerance for those mistakes, and a little forgiveness. If not, then they are people with sad, little hearts. And our businesses are in big trouble.

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