How To Greet The Day With A Forgiving Spirit

At one point or another, every leader has been burned by a relationship they’ve been involved it.

The souring of a business relationship, the pain and rejection felt at the ending of a romantic relationship, feelings of betrayal when an employee defects to another business. We’ve all been there and felt the sting.

There are those who will face the slight with an unforgiving heart. Resolving to hold onto the pain and use it against anyone and everyone who may do them harm.

They think this will protect them. Building a wall and barrier between them and the hurt or possibility of hurt.

Instead, they’re creating a heart of bitterness. Pushing people and opportunities away while holding on to past wrongs.

Andy Andrews discusses why we must be willing to greet the new day with a forgiving spirit as the sixth decision for success in The Traveler’s Gift.

Why We Must Have A Forgiving Spirit

You may think having a forgiving spirit will do nothing for you as a leader. You couldn’t be more wrong. Having a forgiving spirit can help you move to the next level of leadership.

When you’re unforgiving, you’re creating a bitter fruit. Your countenance changes and you begin turning people off.

You also run through the situation multiple times in your mind. Creating thoughts and, sometimes, actions to a deed that was done in jest or without any intention of malice. The target of your negative thoughts usually has moved on or doesn’t even know he’s slighted you.

Since your target doesn’t realize you’re angry with them, you’re placing yourself into solitary confinement.

Forgiveness Is A Gift

That’s right, I said forgiveness is a gift. It’s one you can give freely and without regret.

Forgiveness brings about a sense of peace. You’ve given the person you’ve held a grudge against release. And you’ve also given yourself this gift.

In the end, the bitterness you hold against someone is destroying your life, not theirs. Take the gift you can give yourself and forgive others.

How To Give Forgiveness

You may be thinking I’ll tell you to go and tell the person who has offended you that you forgive them. You’d be wrong. You don’t have to do this. Unless you feel it’s needed and you must do it.

Instead, you can release them in your mind. Go through the list of those who have wronged you in your mind. Make a mental note of who they are and what they did. Do you have a picture?

Good! Now release them. Offer them forgiveness and wipe the memory from your mind. Tell yourself you won’t hold the past actions against the offending party anymore.

One thing to remember with forgiveness, it’s not always a once and done process. There will be times when you’ll have to daily forgive the past actions of someone who has hurt you. If that’s the case, offer the forgiveness daily. Keep at it. It’s worth it in the end.

Question: Is there anyone you need to forgive today? How has this unforgiveness affected your life? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • This is great Joe. We often don’t think about forgiveness in a business context, but we’re whole beings who have emotions that impact our leadership. If we compartmentalize forgiveness to just our personal relationships we’ll miss out on some wonderful opportunities to grow our professional relationships as well.

    • Thanks Adam. It’s something that has been overlooked by those in the business world for sure. People make mistakes and we will miss business opportunities if we’re unable to forgive.

  • I recently experienced something like this. As I prayed about it, knowing I needed to forgive but feeling unable to, God brought 1 cor 13 to mind. As I went through all the things love is, I was released from holding a grudge. I was able to forgive because God is love and love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs.

    Great post.

    • So cool TC. God brings to us what we need when we need it.

  • Love it Joe. People who hold grudges just carry that baggage around and turns them ugly. You can see it in the lines on their faces. They blame everyone for their pain.

    There is a practice called metta mediation where you sit and send good thoughts to those you love and those who wronged you. It can be tough, but it’s life changing.

    • I’ve never heard of metta meditation before Jim. Sounds like it could be a good practice to start.

  • DS

    Forgiveness can be tough. It’s hard to do when the hurt is personal. Normally it makes me have a negative thought process in other areas, or when I’m reminded of it, it makes me short in words and deeds to all people. Thanks for the admonishment!

    • You ain’t kidding DS. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we can do at times. If we can get it under control, we can experience a much fuller, happier life.

  • I can’t think of anyone off hand buddy. I do find that we keep score to much in our lives. Somebody does something and we feel that we can’t forgive them and have to “get even”. This has to stop and these tips will help.

    • I’m glad you found the tips helpful Kimanzi. It’s sad that we pick up the stones of bitterness as we’re wrong and keep them in our pockets to throw at them when we explode. It’s something we can all keep working on.

  • Great post on a topic near and dear to my heart. I discovered the power of forgiveness when I forgave the cult leader of my youth back in my 20s. One thing I’d like to point out is that forgiveness is often a long term process and commitment. It can take work. But as you noted, in the long run it’s a gift. It sets you free.

    I post forgiveness quotes on my blog from time to time. I also wrote my first book “A Train Called Forgiveness” about forgiving our greatest enemies. The follow up book, “At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy” comes out next Wednesday. Here’s a link for any interested readers:

    • That had to be powerful to forgive that man after what he’d done to you. Yet it was probably very freeing when you were able to let go of the pain, huh?

      • It’s the most freeing thing we can do… forgive. And I think the bigger the act done against you, the more freeing it is.

    • Dan’s first book is well worth the read, and I’m excited to read the second book.

  • When my wife and boss forgive me it is definitely a gift – and makes me want to do better, work harder, and be generous with them.

    • Gary, it’s great you’re recognizing forgiveness as the gift it is. Amazing how a little forgiveness can encourage us to be better?

  • David

    Forgiveness is essential for all of us whether we’re a leader or not. The bible says something about forgiving seventy times seven times. The biggest beneficiary of forgiveness is the giver not the receiver. Yes it does “free” the receiver to know that those he/she may have hurt have let it go, but it does so much more for the “forgiver”. Not the least of which is stemming the rise of bitterness. For a leader, holding on to bitterness has the potential to completely undermine their effectiveness as a leader, especially if they “react” out of their hurt instead of “considering” before acting because they freed themselves by forgiving and letting go ……

    • Yup David. Forgiveness frees the person that gives it. It’s hard seeing people hold onto the bitterness. Not only does their attitude change but so can their physical appearance.

  • Great post and topic. I have an easy time forgiving others, I think it’s one of my personality strengths. This includes myself and others. Both are essential to forgive.

    • Dan, I’m glad to hear you’re able to forgive others easily. For some, it comes hard. Don’t let that change!

  • This week one of my direct reports didn’t quite get something right on a report I had asked her to create. This created a little confusion and miscommunication to many of my other teammates. When I went over to remind her of what I was looking for, she quickly apologized. Honestly, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I explained this to her, and simply asked her to address it correctly the next time around. I’m not sure that this misstep required forgiveness, but I’m hoping that my attitude towards providing correction helped her to see that it’s okay to make mistakes (as long as we learn from them).

    • Jon, sounds like you showed her kindness and that forgiveness is available even if it’s not really required. This will help you in building up the organization you work for!

      • We can literally change our organizations one conversation and one interaction at a time.

  • Joe,

    I needed this, thanks!

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  • I totally agree with the fact that a leader must always have a forgiving spirit as i makes him more reputed and loving in the eyes of his fellow companions. Being arrogant and not treating others well always creates a negative impact in the minds of the other people for you.