As a leader we must have the ability to relate to any number of people. A few weeks ago on an early Saturday morning I had a unique experience. I met a biker.
Larry was a biker. Not your forty something midlife yuppy trying to redefine his manhood on a Harley. No Larry was a biker. He carried a carved bone handled knife in a leather sheath. He wore road cured chaps over well worn levis and a broken-in leather jacket that clearly was the cure for serious bouts of road rash. A black bandana covered thinning hair; sunglasses protecting eyes that have seen more of life than many ever will. A hand rolled a cigarette dangled from his lips. No filters, no conforming to the ways of civilized man here. A guy that cussed as easily as he breathed. Rough and tough a guy who has seen things you don’t ask about.
He should have scared us. He should have had us quaking in our shoes. Two middle aged guys meeting on a Saturday morning to discuss the bible; two men who admittedly have seen little of the violence and tragedy of this world. But there was no fear; we were firmly rooted in our faith and open to what may happen.
My friend and I talked to Larry for over half an hour. Two disparate worlds met this morning on a patio. We learned much from Larry. Most of all we learned that he was just a man who like any other was interested in connecting, in discussing life over a cup of coffee.
We learned about his occupation, his hopes, his frustrations, his leisure pursuits. We asked him questions we answered his. We shared openly and offered him friendship. We withheld judgment and met him as another man interested in sipping coffee on a wonderful Saturday morning in the California fall.
The real lesson here relates to respect, dignity and seeing others as worthwhile human beings we just might learn something from. What opportunity might we have missed had we been closed off to Larry fearing what he represented?
As a leader this same lesson holds true. We need to respect others and realize that they can teach us a lesson we may not see coming at first. If we remain open to their perspective, open to their influence we will gain the opportunity to also influence them
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