I just participated in my 5th Red Ribbon Ride this past weekend – a 300-mile bike ride over four days to raise money for those that provide services and care for those with HIV/AIDS in Minnesota. In the past, I rode my bicycle but in recent years I have volunteered on the crew with my daughter to support the riders on the road. I continue to support the ride because of the great cause it is and my many friends and family members who do it with me, and also because I am always inspired by the powerful human spirit that shows up for four days straight, despite the long days, the inevitable breakdowns, sore muscles and tired bodies, and the hot and sometimes stormy weather.

We seem to be at our best during these times when a group of people are committed to a cause bigger than themselves, whether it’s participating in a ride or another cause, providing support to someone who is ill or has lost someone close, or jumping in to help in an emergency or natural disaster. I wonder what would it be like if we all operated in our normal, everyday lives in our organizations and with our families and friends with the power, commitment and compassion that we display during these larger-than-life moments?

When I think about how we behave and interact when we are committed to a greater cause or in an emergency, I noticed six behaviors or practices that we could engage in to bring out the best in others in our “normal” lives:

  1. Put others first – set aside your self-interest and put others – or your common commitment or goal – before your own needs and desires. You do need to balance this with taking care of yourself, but often when you tend to what others need, you can be just as satisfied and fulfilled as if you satisfied yourself.
  2. Be grateful – say thank you (and please!) and appreciate what others are doing, especially for the little things. It only takes a moment and when I watch people interacting with each other using the simple manners our mothers or fathers taught us long ago, I notice how it brings ease and joy to relationships and activities.
  3. Give up being right – even when you are. Ask yourself, “Is it worth getting into an argument or causing tension in your relationship over this?” Often it’s not, and you can just let it go or move on.
  4. Say I’m sorry – apologize when you’ve made a mistake or offended someone, even if it wasn’t intentional. Apologizing doesn’t necessarily mean you were wrong, but we can always take responsibility for how we impacted someone else or made them feel and make that right again.
  5. Forgive – just as important, if not more important, is granting forgiveness. Doing so will help you let go of past offenses and put them in the past so that you and the other person can move forward.
  6. Keep your sense of humor – even in in emergencies or a time of serious illness or death, keeping our sense of humor and finding opportunities to laugh will relieve tension, put things in perspective and bring us closer. Laughing reminds us of the joy we find in each other and helps us not take ourselves too seriously.

We have the opportunity to bring out the best of in others every day. What would our organizations, families, and communities be like if we practiced these ideas with the people with whom we interact on a daily basis – and not just in “special” circumstances? That’s the kind of world I want to live in!

Which of these six ideas will you practice today? What else do you do to bring out the best in others? I would love to hear from you!