Tolerance is a Strength not a Weakness

First of all, I wish to share the following thought that I received the other day. This is called a “30 seconds speech” and it was given by Bryan Dyson, former CEO of Coca Cola.

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. They are Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit and you are keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – Family, Health, Friends and Spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, wicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it.”

I like the image of the rubber ball as opposed to the glass ball. It is so true. Although work is a very important part of our life, yet it is flexible, even replaceable. As difficult as it may be sometimes, a job can be found after one is lost (I know people that change their job every so often). What you cannot replace is a moment with your kids, your companion, your inner self, or taking care of yourself physically and mentally. Stephen Covey calls this ‘Sharpen the Saw’. If you do not take the time to sharpen the saw, it will become dull and eventually useless or broken. So it is with us. If we do not take care of ourselves (spiritually, mentally and physically) and our valued relationships, we will become strained, tired, and maybe ill. I don’t know of any job that is worth a break in a good relationship or an illness. So work efficiently during work hours and go home in time and spend the rest of the day doing those important things you need to do to make sure the glass balls do not fall down and break irreparably.

On another note, I came across some issues of tolerance and judgement lately, which led me to reflect on the world we live in today. I strongly believe that the cause of most of the troubles we have today in the world, in fact the major cause, is intolerance or the lack of tolerance. Think about it: all is well with us until there is argument, confrontation, or disagreement. In a nutshell, when our ideas are different and we become defensive. Although this may be more evident when different cultures confront themselves, it is something that happens on a daily basis even among people that share the same background. The sad thing is that intolerance can become a poisonous dart that effects relationships, destroys friendships, and, in the extreme, blow up into a full conflict that could degenerate in violence.

Ghandi once said: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” How true! We see this especially today when more and more lines are drawn in the sand, reasons will not listen, and we convince ourselves that we are better than others (or is that anybody else?). In other words, problems arise when there is a lack of effort or desire to understand and work on common ground rather than highlight the divisive differences that we may have.

One of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is ‘Seek First to Understand than to Be Understood’. Think about this: how many times do we become engaged in a conversation with someone and instead of really listening we are already thinking what we are going to say or how we are going to respond? Tolerance, among other things, means listening, trying to understand what the other really means, and then trying to make yourself understood. It also means valuing differences (of culture, experience, education, upbringing, etc.). It means exercising integrity. And it means acceptance. Tolerance is not a weakness; it does not mean ‘giving in’. Tolerance is a trait of strength. It means deep desire to make a difference the right way.

I wish to finish with yet another quote from Ghandi: “Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.”


About alby59

Alberto has a 25-year plus career in Local Government which began as City Manager in Italy. He currently serves as Chief Administrative Officer for the District of Lake Country in beautiful Central Okanagan BC. In addition, Alberto is Adjunct Professor to the Political Science Department of the University of Northern British Columbia and teaches a variety of local government related courses. He has developed a series of lectures on Leadership and Ethics and is designing a Project Management course aimed at Local Government and public sector practitioners. Very active in both his professional and academic life, Alberto has served as President of the Local Government Management Association of BC and the Association of Records Management Administrators of BC and Yukon. He also served as member of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Tsunami Recovery Committee for the reconstruction of communities and local governments in Sri Lanka and Indonesia hit by the 2004 Tsunami and managed an FCM capacity building program with the City of San Fernando, La Union in the Philippines while with the Township of Langley. Alberto has earned facilitator certifications with Franklin Covey and Cognitive Edge, and continues to foster his interest in personal education and professional development. He is an avid reader, music lover, and science fiction movie aficionado. He plays guitar and piano for fun and sings with his wife and his children. He is also very active in his church and community being a former Rotarian and currently serving as the Second Counselor in the Thompson Okanagan (Vernon Stake) Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. However, his most important interest is his family: his wife Silvana and their two children Victor and Grace.
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2 Responses to Tolerance is a Strength not a Weakness

  1. Lucia De Fro says:

    Hi, thanks for this 30 second speech. I like it.
    I am from Montevideo- Uruguay. Southamerica.
    My grandfather came from Salerno- Italy.
    Its good to see other De Feo arroud tge world writing things like this.

  2. Pingback: 2010 in review | Alberto De Feo

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