Alas, we have come to the close of summer, along with finishing the month of September and the acknowledgement of another PACE Partner Character Trait: Respect. PACE defines this trait as “Recognizing, considering, and properly honoring the worth of one’s self and others.” I love that they have defined the word in relation to self-respect as well… because, at least from my life experience, it seems very hard for those who have low self-respect to act respectfully towards others. This can be uniquely critical in the business world, where relationships along with commerce are built upon mutual-respect and accountability.
This month I had the privilege of attending the Executive Women International Leadership Conference and Annual Meeting (LCAM) in Washington D.C. on scholarship through our local chapter, EWI of Spokane. We explored the theme of ‘building your professional capital’ during three days focused on EWI’s core tenets: Connections – make the most of incredible networking opportunities; Careers – increase your leadership and professional skills with valuable sessions and an Academy of Leadership course; and Community – honor literacy and scholarship initiatives at the Chapter and Corporate level. There are perhaps few environments where respect is such a potent currency, as amongst 300 professional women (and a handful of men) who have built successful careers – some by tooth and nail. The stories I learned while connecting with these women were as diverse as could be expected, crossing broad generational and regional lines. Often, I was hearing the question posed: how do I get my coworkers to see me as an equal (or leader), and not just as someone who is “sweet,” “approachable,” “helpful,” etc? In other words, how do I earn their respect?
Respect is something that some see as a birth right, and others maintain is a trait that must be earned. To complicate matters, the standards by which the latter group judges how respect should be earned is rarely without bias. Which is why PACE’s definition is so wonderfully universal. We should all recognize that we each carry a story with us… and it is neither necessary that we know or understand that story to respect it; we should be able to honor its value to the world regardless. This thought was further reinforced in the context of our Nation’s Capital, and proximity to the Declaration of Independence, with the following immortal words:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That sounds like the substance of respect to me.