Building a Flourishing Culture: Why Unconditional Love is Not the Answer
For years, I’ve heard people talk about “unconditional love” and it sounded so right. I’ve been rethinking the idea lately. Unconditional love seems so passive. Here’s how it works: You do something that offends me or hurts me. I sit and wait for you to come and ask for forgiveness. When you finally come to me, as the gracious king on the throne I grant you forgiveness. If I’m in an especially good mood, I won’t make you kiss the ring. It’s love unconditional, but it seems strangely centered on me.
Unstoppable love looks radically different. If you offend me or hurt me, I do not sit and wait for you to come to me. Out of a love for you and a desire to do what’s best for you, I put on my shoes and go find you. If there is anger, I set it aside. I show up with compassion, curiosity, and kindness. I reach out to you and let you know that I value the relationship. It doesn’t make a difference to me who is at fault; I accept responsibility for the relationship. I will not give up because you are too important to me. Sure, if you need time or space, I’m willing to give it to you but, I will not wait for you to make the first move.
What would happen if I did that at work? How would I show up? It would mean taking an interest in other people. It would mean getting over self.
Unstoppable love costs more than unconditional love. It can cost me my “right” to be “right”. It can cost me my pride. Fortunately, it can also cost me my bitterness, anger, and energy-consuming rumination.
Unstoppable love isn't just about conflict resolution. It's about putting others first. Are we willing to take an interest in the desires, goals, and struggles of someone else?
Think of how it would impact the culture at work. The drama level would plummet if I reached out in love rather than waiting for people to come to me. I would rather be on a team where everyone said, “I have the power to make a difference. It isn’t about me. I don’t care who gets the credit.” Imagine a workplace where people take the time to invest in each other. I used to work with a guy named Brandon Girkin. He started the day saying, "Hey Doc, what can I do to make your day great?" It made a tremendous difference. How do you show up?
Can you imagine? Less drama and more grace. Less anger and more friendship. Less talking behind your back and more “I have your back”. Less fear and more forgiveness. Less bitterness and more fun.
A change of heart is more powerful than a framed list of value statements on the wall that people struggle to remember. A foundational shift happens when we make the commitment to love each other and those we serve with unstoppable love.