There’s a scene in Pulp Fiction where Vincent opens a briefcase to look inside. What does he see?
It’s a MacGuffin.
What’s a MacGuffin you ask? Great question.
A MacGuffin is a plot device. It’s something of value that is important to the plot of the story.
In Pulp Fiction it is the shiny contents of the briefcase. In Casablanca it is the “letters of transit”. In Raiders of the Lost Ark its…well…the Ark, of course.
Think about the times you have been in a meeting and thought to yourself “Why is that person going on about something so unimportant?”
It’s their MacGuffin. That’s what is so important. To them. But not important to you.
You have a MacGuffin though. Probably more than one. We all do. Something very important to yourself, but likely not understood by others.
If we know that we carry around our own MacGuffins, and we’ve seen people react as a result of their MacGuffins they are carrying, what would you think is the best way to communicate with those around us?
Empathy. It’s the empathy, stupid.
It’s the NUMBER ONE thing I tell everyone they need to have if they aspire to have even a modest amount of success in whatever field they choose.
I don’t care if you are a DBA, a server admin, an HR manager, a policeman, or an accountant. If you don’t have empathy for the people you interact with daily you are going to find yourself struggling more often than not in your role.
Whenever I mention the word ‘empathy’ to someone they always think of Counselor Deanna Troi from Star Trek. Deanna came from a planet where empathic abilities were a trait everyone had. Most people think it is unrealistic to expect to develop the same traits as a fictional character from a sci-fi show.
I’m not asking you to be an empath though. I’m asking you to have empathy. There’s a difference. And you can practice your skills, too.
Next time you are in a meeting and you see or hear someone reach for their MacGuffin I want you to think this one simple thought: Assume good intentions.
Try that. I think you will find how you react to that other person to be a stark contrast to your normal reactions.
When you assume good intentions on behalf of someone else, your whole outlook changes. The nature of the conversation changes. You begin to develop a sense of empathy for others.
You go from being someone who follows to someone who leads.
Empathy. It’s the thing that will take you from where you are now to where you want to be later.
It helped Deanna earn Commander status.
What status do you want to earn?
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