Friday, July 20, 2012

Forgiving the unimaginable... the choice is yours.

A little girl who was in audience at a school presentation I did last year answered this to the question of where forgiveness comes from: “It comes from in my heart!” and she touched her heart with her hand. Besides absolutely melting in that moment, I was reminded about how simple the concept is for children, and how they identify this action of forgiveness with a place in their body, and an emotion to match.

Azim Khmaisa spoke about forgiveness in an equally emotive and compelling manner. I had the opportunity to interview Azim on my Corporate Conversations Radio Show, you can listen in here (Azim’s interview is in the last 30 minutes of the show):

Sadly, the unimaginable, every parent's nightmare happened. Azim’s teenage son was murdered by another teen, a tragedy that most families would struggle to move beyond. The pain and loss his family experienced is almost unimaginable for me. Through forgiveness, Azim said that this tragedy has made him a better person in that he has a deeper sense of peace. Forgiveness allowed Azim to pursue an important global mission, which is to make certain that no father, grandfather, friend or family has to ever experience what they have. His mission has helped him find peace and make a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of people.

In talking about how forgiveness works, and how he was able to forgive the young man who took his son’s life, Azim explained that forgiveness beings with first understanding forgiveness. It is not about condoning a person’s behaviour. The other choice would be to stay in anger, and resentment which is really a form of self abuse. And, as Azim explained, would not provide any quality of life. Instead, Azim chose to forgive his son’s murderer and in a sense it freed Azim to live.

Azim is on a mission to stop violence, and the cycle of violence that our society is so plagued with, and helping him with this mission is the grandfather of the boy (who is now a man) who took his son’s life. Forgiveness really has two components, forgiveness of self, and forgiveness of others. Azim explained that there is great need to explore forgiveness in the workplace, not only in family or community.

Azim visits workplaces to speak about forgiveness and what he calls Compassionate Confrontation, similar to what I describe as Courageous Dialogue. Compassionate Confrontation involves five questions:

1. What happened? This question is about acknowledgement.

2. What were your thoughts and feelings when it happened? This helps the person process his/her anger.

3. What are your thoughts and feelings now?

4. Who was harmed and why?

5. How do we make it better? This question is about opportunity

Take a look around in your team, and within yourself. What situations require forgiveness and closure? How can you take the lead in forgiving to move forward? How could Azim’s five questions help you explore resolution and ensuring that similar challenges to the one you are reflecting upon, do not occur again?

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