Within each of us resides story after story after story of what has happened in our lives that contribute to why we are the way we are, why we do this or that, or why we are this way or that way.
Yet we often judge people based upon our assumptions rather than consider their story.
I have learned that when I see other people behaving in ways that I don’t understand or saying things that I think are “off-putting,” before I go too far in my judgment of them, I think to myself, “there’s a story there.”
When we know the story, or even imagine what the story might be in someone’s life we tend to lean back with a metaphoric, “Oh, now I understand.” We see the person through the eyes of grace. Story leads to grace.
The single mom who goes to a restaurant with her three children in tow, in an attempt to pay her credit card is declined, has a story. The man sitting on a park bench alone, looking out into space in an almost trancelike state, has a story. The team member who comes in late has a story. The employee who when asked a simple question about her family suddenly has tears in her eyes and you know immediately that there’s a story there. The executive who is brash, harsh, or distant, has a story.
Most of these stories remain hidden and untold. The people who are closest to them know their story, but often the people who work with them, and certainly people who serve them at a retail store or restaurant don’t know their story.
Henry David Thoreau’s most famous quote is: “The mass of men (gender-neutral) lead lives of quiet desperation.” People are walking around with stories, untold stories, yet are quietly holding them in. And yet, somehow, they want us to know and understand them.
From now on, serve the untold stories and the people who hold these stories close to their vest. Serve people as you would want to be served, knowing that they, just like you, have a story.
When we live and work with people and imagine their story it is then we become Servant Leaders.