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Inverting the Golden Rule

You’re engaged in work that matters. You’re making a difference. That kind of endeavor is always done with and for others, and therefore, it is a fraught enterprise.

I spend a lot of my time in a leadership role within various online communities. Each has lengthy community guidelines and terms of service that can be boiled down to one essential principle, obey the Golden Rule;

Treat others the way you want them to treat you.

It should be simple, right? Turns out it’s not. Why? Because people are fascinating, and the most fascinating person is the one who stares back at you in the mirror.

You are, of course, generous, kind, and empathetic in your interactions with others. I am too. And yet…

Suppose I were to crawl into your head and listen to your internal dialogue. I’m guessing that the conversation I’d hear is not nearly as considerate and compassionate toward yourself as the conversation you have with others.

Why is that?

My guess is the answer is deeply rooted in biological and evolutionary processes tied to safety and belonging. Shame and blame are powerful levers for enforcing social order. This dynamic will never be fully undone. However, our sense of worthiness and ability to lean into our potential requires that we do something.

Maybe it’s time to invert the golden rule? Perhaps we need to replace “Treat others the way you want them to treat you” with “Treat yourself the way you treat others?”

Scott Perry
Scott Perryhttps://www.creativeonpurpose.com/
I help difference-makers invested in social impact work embrace uncertainty and navigate adversity with greater equanimity. I'm a Difference-Maker Coach and author of Endeavor and Onward. I'm also the head coach in Seth Godin's Creative and Freelancer Akimbo Workshops. I'm a husband and father, go for a cemetery run every day, and quote Marcus Aurelius more often than I should. For over thirty years, I found and spread joy as a professional musician and guitar teacher while maintaining a happy marriage, homeschooling our sons, and taking care of business. My process employs principles and practices that are time-tested and scientifically vetted. I believe we enhance our lives most through endeavors that elevate others.

2 COMMENTS

  1. This is quite interesting post, Scott. What drove me to read your post is that a recent post of mine THE ONE BASIC RULE FOR CONSISTENT LIVING had the same cover mage as yours.
    https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/the-one-basic-rule-for-consistent-living/

    Your last two lines spurred me to think. You wrote
    Maybe it’s time to invert the golden rule? Perhaps we need to replace “Treat others the way you want them to treat you” with “Treat yourself the way you treat others?”
    My question is it possible to give others what we do not have or have little of?

    I must say that you are creative. One sign of creativity is reverse thinking and you have it in a high doze,

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