Friday, June 27, 2014

Lifting or Leaning?


Each day I find reason to inventory my attitudes and actions. After a frustrating time-suck with a call center clerk or bedtime negotiations with my children, I wonder if I am part of the solution or the problem, if the other person left our interaction feeling better or worse.

In Winning with People, John Maxwell shares the following poem by American author Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Poignant and provocative, "Which Are You?" makes a fine tool for such self-assessment: 


There are two kinds of people on earth to-day;
Just two kinds of people, no more, I say.

Not the sinner and saint, for it's well understood,
The good are half bad, and the bad are half good.

Not the rich and the poor, for to rate a man's wealth,
You must first know the state of his conscience and health.

Not the humble and proud, for in life's little span,
Who puts on vain airs, is not counted a man.

Not the happy and sad, for the swift flying years
Bring each man his laughter and each man his tears.

No; the two kinds of people on earth I mean,
Are the people who lift, and the people who lean.

Wherever you go, you will find the earth's masses,
Are always divided in just these two classes.

And oddly enough, you will find too, I ween,
There's only one lifter to twenty who lean.

In which class are you? Are you easing the load,
Of overtaxed lifters, who toil down the road?

Or are you a leaner, who lets others share
Your portion of labor, and worry and care?

In all that we do--especially in this age where snark sells and one can make a living making fun of someone else's pain--let us strive to be Lifters, to ease the loads of those we meet on life's road. For at any moment, we could become the ones with too much to carry, looking for a spare set of arms and a sympathetic shoulder.
Have a great weekend, friends.

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