7 Ways to Have Tough Compassion

Compassion goes wrong when it coddles. Tough compassion calls for extraordinary commitment that stretches people.

Coddling prevents people from achieving their best.

escape hatch

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Coddling compassion:

Don’t coddle at the beginning of challenging projects. Never say,

  1. I don’t want to over-work you.
  2. I’m concerned that we won’t make it.
  3. Let me know if this is too much.

Every escape hatch you open before it’s needed is an excuse for failure.

Coddling compassion invites excuses and mediocrity. The hidden message of coddling is the mission isn’t worth your sweat. Never provide excuses for mediocrity before you reach for exceptional.

Tough compassion:

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” T.S. Elliot

Tough compassion says:

  1. I believe in you.
  2. Our mission is worth commitment and sacrifice.
  3. I’m with you all the way.
  4. We can do this.

Tough compassion:

  1. Stretches people and walks beside them at the same time.
  2. Protects people while they give their best, not before.
  3. Monitors the well-being of teams and takes action when things begin to go dark.
  4. Models the pursuit of excellence.
  5. Expects more of itself than it expects of others.
  6. Invites people to struggle and sweat because its worth it.
  7. Acknowledges challenge and difficulty but believes teams can step up.

The most important aspect of tough compassion is monitoring the team as they work. Step in when shoulders droop and frustration persists.

People never know how far they can reach until they reach for something that’s out of reach. Coddling suggests people can’t do it before they try.

Warning: Constant pressure eventually defeats. Time off and fun energize teams to bring their best.

Tip: Celebrate wins!

Failure to celebrate devalues success.

How can leaders walk the line between stretching people and pushing too far?