Flip through radio stations or your own collection of CDs and MP3s, and I bet every other song will be about some aspect of love or romance. Looking for love, falling in love, falling out of love, breaking up, getting back together—the songs we listen to are predictable, yet expressive of universal yearnings to love and be loved.
Valentine’s Day is the one day where it’s “okay” to recognize love, albeit in ways that are often crassly commercial or entirely superficial. But at least we make a stab at it. I’m not one for expressing myself much in the emotions department, but even I can get sentimental at times.
But what is love? Is it just a “secondhand emotion” as the song says? Or is it something bigger? And how can we make it last longer than just the one day of the year when we give each other cards and eat heart-shaped candy?
The words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 have been quoted often, but I can think of no better description of the kind of lasting love we need—more than any song about Cupid or heartbreak.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Those words, written several millennia ago, still ring true today, and they find their way into modern tomes about relationships, management and leadership. Humility, patience, kindness, generosity, empathy and trust are attributes we admire in leaders but are sorely missing in many workplaces.
“Leading with love” is not about feelings or emotions; it’s about behaviors and their consequences, and recognizing that character matters. It’s about putting others before our own selfish needs. In fact, rarely does great leadership exist without love.
On this Valentine’s Day, in addition to honoring the person who is the love of your life, why not vow to also “love” the way that Paul suggested? It couldn’t hurt.