The blog to start our week is a contribution from a past colleague of mine who also contributed a piece earlier in this series, Deborah Fairbotham. Today also happens to be Deb's birthday, so 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEB!'.
Deb has had a varied career that has let her see the many different sides of humanity. From developing her leadership skills with over 20 years' involvement in the Armed Forces, as well as all sorts of international organisations, she realised that what she enjoys most is seeing other people grow through their own development.
Deb is currently seeking an opportunity with an organisation that has a caring and inclusive ethos. You can see more about her professional background in her LinkedIn profile: Here and you can also find her on Twitter: @LearningLadyDeb
Over to Deb:
Fables and Fairytales
You’ve all heard of Cinderella? If you haven’t seen the Disney masterpiece of sweetness you might well have been to see it in pantomime (Oh yes you have) one or more Christmases in your youth. It’s a classic story of oppression being triumphed by perseverance and everyone lives happily ever after, unless you read the Grimm Brothers interpretation, but more of that later. It is a tale as old as time (edt note; wrong Disney classic quote there!) with versions being recorded as early as ancient Greece and as far and wide as China, but the premise is the same, keep your head down, look pretty and your Prince Charming will find you. Newsflash, life isn’t like that, but I think there is plenty we can think about in this morality fable.
We all know Cinders gets her guy (I always felt sorry for Buttons) at the end but we often gloss over the main reason why she is in the kitchen, her evil step mother and her daughters the Ugly Sisters. Not sure why stepmothers always get a bad name but in this case it is all about greed and favouritism for her own children, as if she can make their life better by making someone else’s worse. Of course, the sisters perpetuate this and even make it seem normal, possibly because they just expect this because they have only ever seen this truth or because admitting that it’s wrong to do what they do will make it real to them. Then there is the ultimate betrayal, they will do anything, turn on each other even, to get the Prince when the missing glass slipper arrives. If you follow the Grimm version they even start chopping off their own toes to make their feet fit and deny the existence of poor old Cinders. But denying her existence doesn’t make them happier, they are never going to get those hooves in the shoe so why not let someone else have a try?
What point am I trying to get across here, well do you think Cinderella worked any better for being left in rags? Did forgetting about her contribution, or in this case even existence, help the Sisters get what they wanted? Or the question that #BeTheRipple is asking us all, would it have hurt to have been nice?
I’d like to think I always try to think of others needs as much as my own, I do admit to having a snapping point, but looking back at the times I’ve been at my least happy I can often see a point where someone has used their power to be unkind and I have soaked it in to help them feel better. A bit like the Evil Queen in Snow White they’ve asked the Mirror who is fairest, or rightest, and the mirror is always going to show you the truth, but if you just take off your glasses and squint a bit you can change the image to one that is much younger, sorry more acceptable. How many times have you been put down to make someone else feel better? How many times have you been told that your answer was stupid, when it was actually just not the one they wanted to hear, heard the words ‘I think you’ll find…’ or know that people are saying things behind your back in their own private Messenger group going that excludes you so you are always the last to know?
All these things are short term wins and long term losses, are you going to get the best out of anyone watching over their shoulder, are you going to give more than you need to if you know you are being sneered at behind your back, would you be happy to know that you have made someone else's life a misery just to make your own slightly easier? As a friend said to me once your light does not shine brighter if you extinguish someone else's.
I’m not here to give you a solution, you may be happy being an ugly sister - after all you have someone else clearing up your mess and if you don’t look back you might never see her crying. But one day your Cinders might just become your Queen and you’ve only got to hope that she is kinder than you, so why not practice being nice and trying to see her side before it’s too late, it’s never too early to start your ripple.
So here is my starter, I apologise to the people who I have cut off in the past because I found that easier than tackling them, the friend who had boyfriend dramas that I personally thought was all due to the fact he was married, the friend who wanted me to agree that our boss was evil when I thought they were in the wrong, the colleague who went over my head because I was being overly dramatic when I was upset over something (I stand by that one but what I do apologise for is the fact that when the same thing happened to him a few months later I thought, but didn’t say, I told you so.). I’m sorry I didn’t want to see your side, sorry I was a coward, sorry you had to go through any of that without my ear if you had wanted it.
My challenge to you then is to think who you want to be kind to, no names no pack drill, and make that apology in the comments, be kind to yourself and let out some of the guilt and through that we can all grow.
Thanks to Deb for sharing this thought-provoking piece. None of us are perfect and at some point in our working lives, or personal lives, we may have behaved in a way that we now look back on and regret, but there is always hope and as Deb says: it's never too early to start your ripple.
Thank you once again to Deb for this fab piece, a reminder that when we look in the mirror at our own reflection, it is important that we are honest and that we are comfortable with what we see.
We would love you to join us on Twitter: @BeTheRipple2020 and/or in our LinkedIn community: Here
If you would like to submit a blog for this series, please send your work via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you soon for the next instalment!
#Kindness #BeTheRippleBlogs #BeKind
You can find PDFs of all blog pieces: