There comes a time in the evolution of every individual when they can no longer experience themselves without dignity. Without the sense of being worthy and honored. But this does not come from someone suddenly starting to treat a person with honor. It begins like this:
A middle aged man comes into the office I am temporarily occupying working with a production facility in the South. My task is to find the solutions to their high employee turnover rate. I have been interviewing everyone, but mostly working with the leadership to address potential changes in most every structure in the company. The plant manager has sent James in to talk with me because he has given his notice. He is one strong, loyal and capable employee that the manager does not want to lose.
I listen to James as he shares all the concerns I have already become aware of during my stay there so far. I assure him we are addressing all those very issues. He assures me he has heard someone tell him that at least four times before me. I am humbled. I know he is right. I continue to listen as his sunken heart shares battered and defeated emotions. I hear him say he has given it all and more at times, without appreciation or gratitude and he can no longer do it.
A part of me wants to say, you’ve every right to quit then. But I know he is sorely needed here and there is something else. Finally, I suggest to James that I have a feeling I know the problem he is facing. He looks at me doubtfully. But I offer, “You have come to the place in your spiritual and personal life where you can no longer live without human dignity.”
He looks at me as if someone has ripped open his heart and read it. His eyes water and he stammers that in fact, that is exactly it. He had not been able to put words to it, but that was it. He now has a knowing that it was more than discontent with a job, it was growing as a human being.
I could tell he was on the verge of a revival of sorts and challenged him. I said, I would never ask you to submit to being treated without dignity, but I also believe there are no coincidences in life. You are here now, this leadership team is ushering in a new way of leading, one that includes treating people with greater value, but they will need help. If you believe that you are here to help others find their own human dignity, I challenge you to stay and let that be your purpose. In everything you do and are, you can model what it looks like and feels like to carry yourself with honor and worth. No one treats you less than how you know yourself to inherently be.
James stood up, shook my hand and said to me, “I accept that challenge.”
Personal dignity determines how others treat you but more importantly how you treat yourself. This is the root. Choosing worth, honor and value of self determine your personal reality.