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Key to A Wonderful Life? Corporate Executives Incentivizing Empathy

Posted by Robert Accomando on Mon, Jul 06, 2015 @ 10:27 AM
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If you’re like me, you never miss an opportunity to hunker down with the people you love to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” when the holidays roll around. Maybe you’ve wondered whether your friends and business associates would come to your aid if the proverbial bank examiners were at your door.  Maybe you've considered what the world would be like if you had never been born, and wondered if you've really had a positive impact during your time on this earth.  The film reminds us all of how powerful simple kindness can be in making our own lives truly meaningful. It also reminds us of how wonderful life can be when our social connections are rich and authentic; when people care for and help support one another intimately, especially during life's most difficult times. It’s A Wonderful Life is an iconic film because it reminds us of what true success really looks like.

Warm and fuzzy stuff aside, with whom would you rather do business, George Bailey or Henry Potter?   Exactly.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook School shooting and similar acts of mass violence like the recent church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, many of us in Newtown, CT have asked ourselves what we can do to help address the root cause of violence in our communities. The answer may very well lie in the scientifically proven benefits of enhanced social emotional learning (SEL) skills in our children and young adults. But how do we get past the “oh, that’s nice” reaction that most people feel when considering these initiatives and get to a place of sustained effort that yields the kind of results that make a real difference in our culture?

The answer lies in corporate America’s conscious realization that you’d rather do business with George Bailey -- 100% of the time.

Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy proclaimed June 28th through July 5th as Social and Emotional Learning Awareness Week. This exciting news comes as a result of the tireless efforts of Scarlett Lewis -- the mother of Jessie Lewis who was killed in the Sandy Hook School shooting -- in promoting “Nurturing, Healing, Love” as well as practicing gratitude and compassion. Scarlett Lewis and The Jessie Lewis Choose Love Foundation are not alone in this unwavering quest to make a difference in the wake of acts of mass violence. The Avielle Foundation, founded by Jeremy Richman, PhD and Jennifer Hensel, MS -- the parents of Avielle Richman who was also killed at Sandy Hook School --  has launched The Spark Project to teach these skills on a community-wide basis and to incentivize this learning with academic scholarship and mentoring opportunities involving high-level corporate executives.

So if you are a warm-hearted, socially conscious corporate executive who sometimes finds yourself wondering when “they” are going to do something about all this craziness in the world, I invite you to help support this important effort by mentoring one of our up-and-coming George Baileys.  We'll do the heavy lifting.  We'll train the kids with the SEL skills.  You'll help make them sharper when the time is right.  From the perspective of a mentored young adult, think of it as being a young baseball pitcher and having Mariano Rivera as a good friend.  Sort of gets the juices flowing, right?  In the end, you will never have to wonder what your world would have been like had you never been born.  The emotionally intelligent young adult we’ll pair you up with will eventually show you the legacy of your kindness through the kind acts performed across a lifetime.  He or she may someday become one of the greatest leadership talent acquisitions your organization has ever made.  And who knows?  Your kid might just end up being your "Clarence" -- helping to save you in the process.

Learn more about The Spark Project by contacting Robert Accomando through LinkedIn or at rob.accomando@aviellefoundation.org.

Topics: C-Suite Advice, HR Leader Advice, HR Thought Leadership; Transformational Leadership