One evening last week, my husband Atul related something profound about Warren Buffet, a man he admires greatly for his business acumen as well as philosophy in life. The fourth wealthiest man in the world, ninety year old Mr Buffet says that the greatest measure of success at the end of our life comes down to one word: Love.
I was immediately interested. I looked up the quote. Mr Buffet, speaking to students at Georgia Tech, revealed that the ultimate test of how you have lived your life is the number of people who actually love you. Because as Mr Buffet says: You can’t just write a check for a million dollars’ worth of love. Love has to be earned. And the more you give love away, the more you get.
The thought touched a deep chord within me. I am a firm believer in the concept of love. Love for All. Not just the people who are close to us but the larger band of people we come in contact with in life.
Sounds idealistic? Not really.
Love is a powerful emotion. The most positive. The most magical. We love our family. No one teaches us to love our parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins… it comes naturally. And once we step out in to the world, we meet new people on a daily basis. It is estimated that we meet as many as 10 thousand people in our life; others project as many as 25-30 thousand!
There are the people we work with, our neighbors, teachers, classmates, business associates, friends of friends, gym buddies, shop keepers, vendors, handymen and support staff. Others we meet briefly ~ when we travel, at the theatre, playground, restaurant, even peddlers at intersections! With some of these people, we build cherished bonds that last a lifetime; with others, the interaction may be brief and not that important, but a connection is made nevertheless. A role that is fulfilled, a function that is realized.
Every connection is valuable; every interaction meaningful. Even if it as routine or as mundane as waving at the guard when you drive past the gate. Life is one big co-existence. And how we connect with others defines the way we relate to our own self and the world at large. And determines the life we build for ourselves.
When we interact with a person, we look at his expression, gestures and posture, take in his words, and listen to the tone of his voice. We take it all in and form our own assessment of the person and his perspective… Our judgment then defines our relationship with him. That is, most of us, usually, use this Outside-In approach in connecting with people.
What if we love Inside-Out?
What if we were to meet people with a heart full of love? All people. Everyone. People we live with; people we meet for the first time, second time… nth time; people we meet briefly or with whom we do not expect to form long-lasting relations…
Because when our heart is full of love, our entire being is positive. We exude a warmth, a willingness to listen. An unvoiced acceptance and appreciation for the other. Mixed with a degree of caring and compassion. This unspoken communication of unconditional love creates an inter-connectedness that sets the stage for a meaningful exchange, however brief.
Celebrated psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl in his 1946 memoir Man’s Search for Meaning reiterates, “Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the essence of another human being unless he loves him.”
And it’s true. By giving our love first, we create a psychologically safe environment, an atmosphere of peace and well-being that is non-threatening and brings out the best in others, that allows a person to blossom into his own self without fear of retribution. When leaders display practical love, people love coming to work and they return the love back in full force. Mr Buffet seeks to create, and attributes the high performing success of his company, to this culture of unconditional love.
Closer home, Munnabhai, the protagonist of the 2003 hit film of the same name, taught us the power of love in another dimension. When Munnabhai walks up to the grouchy, grumbling sweeper in his college and hugs him, the old man is overcome with emotion; Munnabhai’s hug conveys kindness, compassion and gratitude all rolled into one leaving the old man (and us) tearful and smiling!
When we give our love freely without expecting anything in return, we experience the same within ourselves. Whether it be lifting up a colleague with encouragement, helping develop an employee under our leadership care, or infusing deep meaning and purpose into someone’s work role, love comes back in full force.
The power of love is held within each of us. And we hold the key to its release. The choice is ours.
Try it. Once. Just once.