In 1999 I was on a business trip in Paris. Seriously. I remember the morning before we left for Barcelona, the second leg of the business trip (seriously), I looked out my hotel room window and five floors below I witnessed an unsettling scene.
A man and a woman were arguing. They stood on the sidewalk, hands and arms gesticulating, and I caught bits and pieces of shrill French swirling in the air around me like hot ash.
The man grabbed the woman's arm and shook her. She wrenched herself free and got in a small white car.
The man continued yelling at her through the closed car window. I expected her to peel out and away from the curb, but she didn't. He kept yelling.
And then he kicked the side of the door. Full force.
And he kicked it again.
And then he broke the window.
That's when the thought finally slapped my mind across its face that I should do something:
A) Call the police.
B) Call the lobby to call the police.
C) Go downstairs and help her.
I looked up in this split-second decision-making haze, and when I Iooked down again, the car and the man were gone.
The one other thing I noticed during this violent exchange was the fact that no one stopped, no one paid any attention.
Mercy me. There's the cultural cliché that Parisians and other romantic language folk are passionate to the point of the rational breaking down and physical restraint becoming mired in emotional reactivity.
But no one even paid attention.
According to the Family Violence Prevention Fund site:
The United Nations Development Fund for Women estimates that at least one of every three women globally will be beaten, raped or otherwise abused during her lifetime. In most cases, the abuser is a member of her own family.
And then closer to home:
Nearly one in four women in the United States reports experiencing violence by a current or former spouse or boyfriend at some point in her life.
Two of those four could be my daughters someday, but not without me raising Cain along the way.
We can be passionate sans the violence, kids. Personal leadership starts at home in the mirror.
If you're interested, you can read a post I did at the TalentCulture titled Taking A Look Into The Leadership Mirror:
We look in the mirror and just want to look great. Looking great makes us feel great and ready to face the world.
But as we linger over our reflection a little longer, we begin to notice blemishes, scars, discolorations, imperfections of the tiniest kind that initially only we can see.
That perception of our own imperfect reflection bleeds inward; what kind of a person are we? What kind of a husband, wife, family, friend, employee, manager, business owner, or CEO are we? What is our state of being?
We try. We fail. We learn. Or we don’t.
Linger long enough in front of that mirror and you ask yourself: How responsible am I today for me and my role in today’s highly integrated personal and professional miasmic universe?
Hopefully the answer is “very responsible.” We are leaders of self first, and there can be no in-between or settling for marginal personal responsibility, imperfections and all...