People sometimes ask me if there is any difference between the young people I meet in defence and those I meet outside defence. It is difficult to generalise but one word that seems to summarise the difference and it is RESPECT. It seems that one of the biggest challenges of new recruits is to first respect themselves and then to respect others.
So, how do you teach people to respect themselves? Sounds simple but it begins with:
- Respect your appearance! This is not just to keep the MSI’s off your case but because you want to look your best.
- Respect your time! Time management is important to making the most of your life, so don’t waste your time – take control of it and invest it in things that will last.
- Respect your work! Don’t accept second best – strive for excellence, be innovative and look for better ways of doing things, not just when somebody is looking.
Then you will be in a good position to learn to show respect for others which will mean:
- Respect differences! Recognise that we are not all the same; we each have different gifts and abilities. The challenge is not to become a super star but to create a super team by working together.
- Eager to forgive! None of us are perfect, we all stuff up sometimes and showing respect for others is about giving them a second chance and offering grace.
- Serve rather than expect to be served! It does not matter where you are in the chain of command – the bottom or the top we are under obligation to serve one another.
- Patient listener! Today more than ever people are being pushed to do more with less, but to show respect to others you need to make a conscious effort to slow down and listen to those around you. That opens the way for effective communication.
- Encourage! We all need it, so go out of your way to lift up the people around you and you will be surprised how much more friendly it feels.
- Confront injustice! Respect for others means that you will be prepared to speak up for the powerless and downtrodden who may have no voice.
- Timeliness! If you respect your time then you must also respect other’s time which will require you being on time for appointments, being prepared before the deadline and not wasting other people’s time.
Before you congratulate me on this list I have a confession to make – I pinched all these ideas from the Bible! Which reminds me, if you have respect for yourself and for others, the next challenge is do you have respect for God?
Chaplain Ian Whitley