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I’ve finished the analysis on my LDS youth leader survey that many of you took earlier this year. The most often-mentioned concern you shared with me is unity. Here are some of the words you used to describe your concerns:
“Working well with other leaders.”
“I get left out of the loop a lot.”
“Creating sisterhood among the young women.”
“Dealing with gossip.”
“Having the girls be more understanding of each other.”
Unity is hard. I’m pretty sure it’s a level five leadership skill. We can’t accomplish it alone and yet, it starts by examining ourselves and our own behaviors and changing them.
Unity is also one of the characteristics of Zion. And you don’t have to take my word for it. Both Elder Christofferson and President Eyring have given excellent talks about Zion that mention the importance of striving for unity. The scriptures also call for unity.
Yet, sometimes we struggle with how to go about this. I get it. The higher the stakes are, the more challenging the work becomes.
I’d like to share with you some truths that will help us to find unity with those around us:
Be Willing to Change First
When we are in a conflict with someone else, we have tendency to want them to change. What happens when someone comes to us and insists we change? We usually reject it and insist that the other person needs to change. Then we’re at a standstill and no one is willing to give an inch.
Have you ever succeeded in getting someone to change? How often have you seen that happen?
Let me ask you some other questions: This person that you are at odds with, how much time do you spend criticizing them, correcting them and trying to fix them? How much of your time are you spending thinking about doing those things or worrying about them?
What if you took most of that energy spent on correcting things that are wrong and spent it helping things to go right?
How do we do that?
See People as People, Not Objects
How we see people around us can be a huge source of problems for us. It can also be a huge source of conflict resolution.
There’s a good chance that if you’re reading this, there’s someone you’d like to change. How do you see them? Do they have dreams, hopes and feelings that are as real to you as your own? If your answer is yes, that’s great! You’re probably very good at unity. If not, let me ask you some other questions: Do you see the person you want to change as an object? Are they an obstacle in your way? Are they irrelevant to you? Do you see them as a means to an end?
If yes, this is where you can begin to change. We can’t have any hope of changing someone that we see or treat as an object.
Your Allies are not Your Allies
Wait, what!? It can be so tempting to want to confide in someone when we are struggling with someone else. Sometimes we feel we need to vent. Sometimes we are seeking advice. Going to someone else can actually reinforce the pattern of conflict we are engaging in. There are two reasons this can be the case: First, you tell them your perception of what has happened. This isn’t always the whole truth about what happened. This means that the friend or family member you’re talking to doesn’t have all the facts. Second, this is someone who is more likely to side with you than not.
Observing these three truths can help you achieve more unity with those around to.
For more information about how to achieve unity, go check out a copy of The Anatomy of Peace, by the Arbinger Institute.