It’s the actions that you take that demonstrate how you feel
Do you know the definition of the word respect?
Quick, what is it?
I’ve asked a few people this question over the last few days, and while everyone has an answer, two things become clear.
First, everyone I asked had a hard time articulating a definition clearly.
Second, and perhaps more important, respect means different things to different people.
The dictionary.com definition?
Respect: To hold in esteem or honour, or to show regard or consideration for.
Is that close to what came to mind for you?
It got me thinking, is respect what we really should be aiming for? Is to be held in esteem really what our goal should be both for ourselves and in how we treat others?
I’m not so sure.
Enter Pete Carroll
It was an interview with Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, that got me thinking about all this.
For those of you who don’t know, coach Carroll’s resume is the definition of success — winning ( repeatedly ) at all levels, college and pro. The Superbowl, a college football national championship ( one of only three people to have won both ). He’s beloved by his players, and as the NFL’s oldest coach ( though you’d never guess it looking at him ), a mentor and teacher to many.
He’s also the founder of Compete to Create, a mastery program focused on making people better, using the principles he’s refined over forty-plus years of coaching.
If you ever get a chance to listen to the man, take the opportunity.
Back to the interview
Coach Carroll was talking about how he had worked over the years to clarify his messaging and the principles that he wanted his staff and players to follow.
One of the modifications he’d made, based on that ever-elusive definition of success, was for his team and staff to remove talk of respect, and instead think about how they regarded themselves, and those around them.
For Coach Carroll, it was more about the effort you put in, and the actions that you take, and how that demonstrates how you feel about whomever and whatever you’re dealing with.
In his words.
“How you regard something is how you demonstrate respect.”
When I looked up the definition, it made so much sense.
Regard: to look upon or think of with a particular feeling or to pay attention
Regard is how we feel about, and how much we’re willing to care for something. Respect is how we act on that information.
I’ll repeat it; regard is the feeling; respect is the action we take.
Regard is empathy. Regard is focus. Regard is about getting to the root of understanding. Once you have regard, respect doesn’t require making a choice, and it becomes the default state.
Carroll said it best in the interview.
“If you see somebody who you don’t think is important to you, so you don’t give them the time of day, you’re demonstrating a level of regard that shows whether you respect them.”
The same holds for how we view and treat ourselves. If we don’t keep who we are, and what we’re doing in high regard, we will not show ourselves the respect it takes to put the time and effort to work on the things that need working on.
The Tl;dr of this whole thing
We’re living in an age where it’s easy not to have respect.
For many of us, so much of what we read and so many of the stories we hear, are of people living lives of wealth and success, no wonder we start to hold ourselves in such low regard, the precursor to respect.
Additionally, the internet has made so many of our conversations superficial and faceless, making it easy for us to think less of those who disagree with us, negating the respect we all deserve.
Expecting people to change just because we’ve told them to be respectful, feels unlikely.
Taking the time to remind people that we all have similar feelings, and related challenges that we’re all just trying to make our way feels like the more natural path.
Thanks for the reminder, coach.