The title of this post is a line from one of my favorite books on leadership, “Leadership is an Art,” by Max DePree. DePree goes on to say:
We also enable the future by forgiving the mistakes we all make while growing up. We free each other to perform in the future through the medium of trust. (p. 114-115).
I must confess that I have a hard time forgiving people I don’t trust. But I find it impossible to trust someone I refuse to forgive. Unforgiveness disables the future by shackling us to the past. Forgiveness is a discipline of liberty, learning, and purposeful growth.
Trust does not require that we forget the performance failures or wrongs done to us by others. Trust simply requires that we factor an individual’s predictable behavior into our future expectations of that person. All of us have the capacity to be predictably untrustworthy at something.
For example, if someone you work with has a history of being deceitful, it would be foolish to pretend this person will never be deceitful again. It’s the resentment of, rather than the knowledge of, the individual’s mala fide behavior that is the real threat to your future development.
Today’s forgiveness enables the trust required for you and your team to create its future. Forgiveness is an inherently prudent professional virtue.