Sometimes I catch myself being sarcastic or petty. I used to be much more sarcastic and petty than I think (hope) I am now. One day - or several "one days" - I just got it that people are much more interested in real conversations and talking about ideas and common experiences.
I like Ellen's post here about the Imus firing called Firing Imus Not Enough for Human Brains.
If it sounds easy or straightforward, that’s only partially true. The first time we act on any of the above problem areas we swim upstream while the brain’s basal ganglia fights back to retain the status quo. Voices such as Imus, may have created that status quo as a cultural communication approach, but it’s now firmly entrenched in our collective intelligence.
Read the whole post, it is very good. Have you ever taken golf lessons? The instructor likely used the term muscle memory. If you learn bad habits, they build pathways and it is hard to undo them. Oddly enough, my best golf shots are usually 8 holes in, right when my muscles are starting to weaken and tire (I do not play golf often). My bad habits muscle memory gives way a bit and I produce a few good shots.
I sometimes ask myself the question, "Why don't we just take the high road when it comes to dealing with others?" Perhaps our brain memory makes that a bit more difficult.
My step-father (passed away 2 years ago) was raised in the south and in a fashion where races were not believed to be equal. He had many wonderful qualities and a few beliefs we were not so proud of or that made us uncomfortable. This is not an uncommon story, I am sure many of us have relatives who grew up in different times and have struggled to change their beliefs.
But I did not realize how granular his prejudices were until my aunt revealed a bombshell during her research into the family tree. My family comes from Canada but it seems we have something else in our genes too (don't we all?). My aunt discovered that my great, great, great grandfather was a black man from Jamaica, making my mother 1/16 black (me 1/32 if I have my math right). My mother and I were thrilled with the news, but my step-father struggled with it. He had just been told that he had slept with and married a woman who is 1/16 black.
We were floored, but that's just who he was and he honestly felt pain over the matter. His logic and his knowing my mother for two decades took a back seat - for a time - to his brain patterns about race.
I don't mean this to be a post just about race. I think we have many opportunities - each and every day - to take the high road about how we regard and treat each other. Are we seeing the greatness in people? Are we appreciating people even though they have other qualities that repel us? For example, I have never been a fan of Imus' radio show, but I have always admired his philanthropic work with kids. It is a shame that his bad behavior will also affect his ability to continue his good work.
Oh, and if you are wondering how this relates to generating breakthroughs, just think about this. When we are regarded as caring and open people, we enroll others in our goals and intentions. When people are put off by our words or deeds, they scatter like cockroaches when the light gets turn on.