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In a recent interview Hillary Clinton was asked how she left behind the bitter pre-election battle with President Obama. She responded with a line I’ll always remember: “We need to be bigger than politics.”

In a similar vein, we need on a daily basis to be larger than the petty irritants (especially those in human form) that attempt to disparage our shiny exterior. It actually takes more energy to engage in petty skirmishes than it does to rise above them. We need to be too noble for anger… and too secure to disrespect our peers for the purpose of letting others see our importance.

How much productive time is lost on justifying our position (or worrying about a comment), when we could be spending our energy on more creative, productive endeavors? Mired in battle, we sink to a level of lowly pursuit – one tinged by vengeful motivation. Those who mutter negative comments under their breath and make sarcastic remarks to their neighbor engage in sabotage. It’s the only way the untalented can get attention. Put your money where your mouth is. I would imagine the biggest talkers aren’t the ones with the most impressive achievements.

There’s a positive relation between putrid behavior and pitiful self-image. Bullies speak from a position of false privilege; they engage in childish behavior to prove their importance. Conversely, a mature adult emphasizes the positive and supports other people. A child sees one perspective – his or her own. Moreover, people do what’s rewarded. If you as a leader say nothing, you’re tacitly rewarding their antics.

The illusion of power is reinforced through excessive control. If employees felt empowered, they would not feel the need to put down others. A culture of fear breeds people who seek false empowerment. Trying to achieve solidarity through dissing others is an unhealthy form of human bonding, a message that brands the naysayers as ones more potent than more civilized onlookers. The tragedy is that bullies never learn, they never change, and they continue being a scourge to their peers. Ignorance and malice do not need to permeate by osmosis – you can choose to repel them.

The antonym of nobility is unprincipled. Poisonous thoughts that lead to untoward acts only prevent you from fulfilling your potential. Be the bigger person. Your legacy is on the line.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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