Updated: Feb 16
The third way you give the GIFT of respect is you SEE.
Notice others. Don't treat others like they're invisible.
There are many things that I have taken from the 2009 film Invictus, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela. I know that Mandela can be a very controversial figure, so I will be respectful of people on both sides of that opinion.
But there is a powerful aspect to Nelson Mandela's leadership style - at least, depicted in the movie - that is worth emulating. That being, to President Mandela, no one was invisible. He gave you the gift of respect by SEEING you.
He noticed you.
Whether you were the President of another nation.
Whether you were the captain of the South African Rugby team.
Whether you were one of his many bodyguards.
Whether you were his tea lady.
Nelson Mandela noticed you. And he noticed specific things about you and warmly connected with you on those details.
President Mandela noticed when you had your hair done.
He observed and complimented the clothes you were wearing.
He remembered the type of candy you liked and would bring some back to South Africa, just for you, when returning from one of his trips abroad.
To President Mandela, everyone he encountered in life deserved his notice. To him, no one was invisible. He gave the GIFT of respect by consciously making the effort to SEE others.
I believe it was CS Lewis who commented that the number one desire of the human heart can be seen in children.
And what is the #1 desire of the human heart?
Our desire to be noticed.
We want to be seen.
And nobody communicates this desire more powerfully than children.
Even now as I write this, some of the most common words out of your mouths EACH DAY will be, “Daddy, watch!” or “Mommy, look!”
You want to be noticed.
"Daddy, watch me climb this tree."
"Mommy, look at this spaceship I made out of Legos."
"Daddy, watch me dribble this soccer ball...Daddy! Watch!"
"Mommy, look how good I am at drawing."
And all of you love it when we attend your sporting events, your school concerts, etc. You love when we SEE you in action and praise you for how good you were/are.
All five of you. Regardless of age. In your own way. You all constantly communicate "See me!" "Watch me!" "Look at me!" "Notice me!"
You all want to be noticed.
Everybody wants to be noticed.
One of the most painful things in this world is to feel invisible – that no one sees you.
I remember auditing a special class at one of my alma maters on ministering to people who have experienced tragedy and heartache.
To this day, I keep in my heart the story of one of my classmates, a lady I’ll call Ruth. Ruth was a beautiful, older woman in a wheelchair.
Ruth told me that one of the hardest adjustments to life in a wheelchair is coming to terms with the fact that you have become "invisible" to the vast majority of the population. That she simply would not be SEEN and noticed by other people because she was no longer at their eye level and their usual field of vision.
Ruth’s story alone has changed my life. She has taught me how to give the GIFT of respect by consciously seeing, noticing, and acknowledging “invisible people” with a pleasant greeting.
Almost every time I am in a supermarket and I see someone in a wheelchair, I try to always make a point to make eye contact with them, and to acknowledge them with kindness.
Several years ago, I heard this entire concept put another way.
“There are two types of people in the world.
First, there are those who enter a room, and by their body language announce to everyone, ‘Well, here I am!’.
And then there are people who enter the same room, make eye contact with another person, and state, ‘Well, there you are!’”
This world has a borderline infinite number of “Here I am!” type of people. They're a dime a dozen.
Be one of the rare “There you are!” type of people.
Be the type of person who walks into a room and SEES the people others are overlooking.
Be the unique person in a room that brings healing energy to it by liberally passing out the GIFT of respect by SEEING others.
To you, no one is invisible.
R = Receive – love and accept others for who they are.
E = Equalize – stand beside others as equals. Not above them. Not below them.
S = See – Notice others. Don’t treat others like they’re invisible.
P = Protect – Stick up for others. Never bully another human being.
E = Empathize – Listen to the stories of others. Try to feel what they feel.
C = Compliment – People crave affirmation. Compliment them.
T = Thank – People crave appreciation. Thank them.