There is an old story—a parable—about a powerful ruler who became angry with his son and exiled him from his kingdom. The son went away in anger towards his father, determined to never return.
As the years past, the father was increasingly aware of the emptiness in his life, and of his own responsibility for destroying the relationship that had once been so precious to him. He called several of his most trusted advisors and asked them if they could find his son and ask him if would come back home.
Off they went, looking for the son who was missed so much, and finally finding him in a place that was very far from his father’s kingdom. But when the found him, they discovered that he was still angry and bitter about how he had been treated by his father. While he spoke with the messengers from his father, he made it clear that it was just not possible that he would be able to return to his old home.
The trusted messengers returned to their friend the ruler with the sad news that the son had told them that he just could not come home because the disappointment and hurt was too much.
His heart broken by this news, the ruler was quiet for a long time. Eventually, he looked up at those who had spoken to his son and asked them to go back with this message: “Come back as far as you can, and I will come the rest of the way to meet you.”
A story like this helps us think about what might happen when we become willing to go “the rest of the way.” Instead of saying, “It’s your fault,” a “rest of the way” mindset enables us to put blame aside and get back on task. Instead of saying, “I’ll meet you halfway,” a “rest of the way” perspective removes negotiation from the equation and enables mutual benefit to flourish. And instead of “It’s not my problem,” a “rest of the way” approach provides an opportunity for action instead of passivity.
We clearly need—and accept—standards of accountability, fairness, and integrity. Those very standards are what make a more active, generous, and hopeful role possible in all kinds of situations—personal and professional.
Are you ready to go the rest of the way?
(Appreciation to Rabbi David Wolpe for this story.)