Published: December 31, 2015

By Jim Lichtman
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Most fans recognize this moment from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.  It’s the moment when Captain Kirk has been hopelessly left to die on a seemingly desolate location by his scene-chewing arch-enemy Khan. Watching the film recently, I noticed something that I had previously overlooked.

Facing the unimaginable, Kirk vents his anger (KHAAAAAAAAAAN!!), and then… he just sits down.

“We can’t just sit here!” a crew member says.

“Oh, yes we can,” Kirk calmly tells him.

While the other members leave to locate food in a remote cave, one member, Saavik, a female Vulcan trainee remains behind.

Pondering their collective fate, Kirk observes, “As your teacher Mister Spock is fond of saying: ‘I like to think there always are possibilities.’ ”

It’s a brief moment, but one that made me look back at a year full of tragic and unimaginable stories: from the indictment of a beloved comedian and role model on charges of sexual assault to an incredibly resourceful army of terrorists who have no sense of human decency.

However, events don’t have to reach the tragic heights of national news to take a toll on one’s spirit.

According to Christine Porath, an associate professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, “Rudeness and bad behavior have all grown over the last decades, particularly at work. … How we treat one another at work matters. Insensitive interactions have a way of whittling away at people’s health, performance and souls.”

In response to The New York Times essay (June 21), a reader, Fran Sepler, who is a “consultant specializing in remediation of workplace misconduct” writes, “Too often leadership roles go to those who have technical expertise or financial results without regard to their emotional intelligence or leadership capabilities. We find that people who behave badly are given tacit permission to do so as long as they produce results. …

“The happy news,” Sepler adds, “is that when organizations manage to shift their culture to one of behavioral accountability and positive leadership, living out those promises made of a respectful work environment, it produces happy, resilient and engaged employees.”

Another reader, Jodi Ackerman Frank, points out, “It takes time to listen fully to someone for that extra minute without walking away or reading an email on your mobile phone. It takes time to truly consider a staff member’s idea or suggestion. But for those bosses who do this, and I have been lucky to have had a few of them, the benefits are enormous…”

There is a poem that reportedly hangs on a wall inside Mother Teresa’s children’s home in Calcutta, India. In 2002, The New York Times reported that the author is Dr. Kent M. Keith. Author Keith calls them The Paradoxical Commandments. However, I like the title offered in the children’s home, “Anyway.” To my way of thinking, it goes a long way to counter the cloud of cynicism that has overwhelmed the country this past year.

“People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

“If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

“If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

“The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

“Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

“The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

“People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

“What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

“People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

“Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.”

Or, as Spock reminds us, “I like to think there always are possibilities.”


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