I met a new friend last week that shared with me her love story. She got engaged while living on the East Coast. During her engagement she became very close with one of her classmates, while attending business school. They started spending lots of time together. And soon after, regrettably, they began having an emotional affair. Torn with guilt, she approached her fiance and came clean. She told him about the other guy.
Most men would have gotten angry. Fling a few choice words. Many would have broken off the engagement. Instead her fiance said, “This guy must be special if you have feelings for him. I’d like to meet him. Why don’t you invite him over for dinner?”
I literally gasped when I first heard this story. Without even knowing this woman’s, now husband, I felt a profound respect for how he handled that situation years ago.
That dinner was incredibly awkward, my friend shared. She told me her husband was such a gentleman during the dinner – calm, humble and understanding. On the other hand, her classmate acted the complete opposite. She knew at that dinner what a terrible mistake she’d made. Twenty-five years later, my friend has a beautiful marriage and a wonderful family. Two words: Class Act. Two more words: High Road.
Jill and I put our home on the market this year. We considered downsizing and building a new home in a more urban area of town. Last week we told our realtors, after all their efforts, that we decided not to sell. That we decided to stay in our home.
Most real estate agents would have gotten angry – focused only on their lost commissions. Perhaps fling a few choice words. Or try to convince us to change our minds. Here’s how our realtors responded – “Tommy, I want what is best for you and Jill. And if staying in your home is what is best, then we support your decision 100%.” Two words: Class Act. Two more words: High Road.
Back in July of 2000, I started my first non-profit youth leadership organization. A couple months later, I learned that one of my teammates from my former employer started a nasty rumor about me. Nasty enough that I started receiving phone calls from concerned friends from around the country. Naturally, I called the interim CEO of my former employer and shared what I learned. The person that spread the rumor was disciplined and had to write a letter of wrongdoing.
Fast-forward three years.
One day as I was walking out of church, I ran into my former teammate. Talk about an awkward moment! But then this guy said something to me that I will never forget. He genuinely apologized. He told me the reasons he spread those rumors about me three years earlier. He shared his heart – talked about his low self-confidence, his jealous tendencies and his regret for spreading false rumors about me. He cried. I cried.
That chance meeting led to coffee and then lunch and then a ballgame and then I hired him to work for my company – eventually him becoming our Chief Operating Officer. No doubt, one of the three best people that I’ve ever hired.
Most people who make such a mistake would never admit their wrongdoing – or have the courage to communicate why. And most people would never hire someone who wronged them in the past. Two words for him: Class Act. Two words I learned: High Road.
Sometimes taking the high road is hard. Sometimes it is very hard. But it is always the right road.
As Heart-Led Leaders, we can change the lives of people when we take the high road. When we forgive. When we give second chances. When we give the benefit of doubt.
My new friend and her husband have a twenty-five-year marriage to celebrate because of taking the high road.
My realtor has a lifelong client and referral base because of taking the high road.
And I had the honor to work alongside with one of the most special human beings, for nearly a decade, because I learned the power of two very important words: High Road.