Inverting the Golden Rule

personal development May 17, 2021
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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, Difference-Maker Coach at Creative on Purpose.

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