[December 29, 2018] The Boy Scout Law has 12 values that each scout swears to each day. The 5th one is courteous. Since the beginnings of humankind began, it has been a basic understanding that to get along with others, earn their respect, and be free of mind; then one must be courteous to all.
“The true greatness of a person is evident in the way he or she treats those with whom courtesy and kindness are not required.” – Joseph B. Wirthlin, American businessman and religious leader
Joseph Wirthlin, a smart and religious man, understood the value of courteousness. The idea that “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14) is one of the keys to salvation; something he spoke about often. In every religion, there are passages in the holiest of books that speak to the idea that to be courteous is essential for those who are closest to salvation.
One might think that the old religions of the past are backward, unworkable, or beneath our contempt but religions are an outgrowth of millennia of trial and error in human relationships. Every leader worth their position, knows that courteousness takes little effort and yet yields great rewards.
“A Scout is courteous. He is polite to all, especially to women, children, old people, and the weak and helpless. He must not take pay for being helpful or courteous.” – Boy Scouts of America from Scout Law History
Earlier this year I wrote about how our Boy Scouts re-learned this lesson during their Summer Camp in the woods (see link here). With the mosquitoes, wasps, and critters that bite, the heat and humidity, sleeping in the open, being dirty and grimy, our scouts and adult leaders found it especially challenging to be courteous. We practiced it and learned that the best way to get along was to be courteous to all.
I know of no highly successful leader who fails to be courteous. I know of many who won their position of great authority and autonomy because they understood that courtesy is the grease that allows the machinery of human interaction to work smoothly. This is an essential element of leadership.