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Glimpse of Civility

I do not attend comedy shows nor follow politics very often, but this week I sat in an amphitheater and watched comedian Jim Gaffigan. It was a great show with lots of one-liners. My favorite Jim line was, “I’m fat. That’s not self-criticism or low self-esteem. It is self-awareness, which seems in very low supply these days.”

Then for some reason, I picked up a copy of USA Today, turned to page two and read the Rod Rosenstein letter of resignation to President Donald Trump. This line caught my eye:

“I’m grateful to you for the opportunity to serve; the courtesy and the humor you have displayed in our personal conversations; and for the goals you set in your inaugural address: patriotism, unity, safety, education, and prosperity.”

The story went on to tell of the public scorn and emotional abuse rained on Rosenstein by Donald Trump over his time as Deputy Attorney General. Yet the man did not take the current politically approved approach of bashing anyone as any opportunity arises. He instead showed civility, a true civil servant so to speak; he displayed kindness and courtesy to a man who reputably ranks very high on the list of the worst people managers in the world. Rosenstein acted from a place of good for his country, instead of a position that was good for his public image.

Leadership evolves by intention. In my work over the years with some very effective and ineffective managers, I have noticed that many young high-potential professionals, and most four-year-olds, act out of a self-absorbed place of arrogance and pride: “I’m right, you are wrong. I will win. That’s it.” Then as life goes on, some people choose to step back and observe their behavior honestly. Those rare individuals become true leaders as their self-awareness transforms them into being civil, which is synonymous with humility and confidence: “I may be wrong. How can we work this out? What’s next?”

Journal Entry: Have you had a manager, spouse or child that you consider to be a person of civility? How do they influence the way you show up in your leadership and life today?


“Gentle words are a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” — Proverbs 15:4, the Bible, NLT

After God created 24 hours of alternating darkness and light, one of the angels asked Him, “What are you going to do now?” God said, “I think I’m going to call it a day.”

“When you know you can do something, and you feel good about yourself, you do not have to devalue others.” ― John Patrick Hickey

“You can disagree without being disagreeable.” ― Ruth Bader Ginsburg

“The person of greatest strength is also one of great gentleness. The most accomplished person learns from both failure and success. The strongest leaders know how to follow, and that asking for help can sometimes be the best thing she or he can do.” — Found on a birthday card

“Any fool can criticize condemn and complain, and most fools do.” — Benjamin Franklin

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