Vail Valley Voices: Who do you respect? |

Vail Valley Voices: Who do you respect?

John Horan-Kates
Vail, CO, Colorado

At the Vail Leadership Institute, we define respect as an attitude of high regard or admiration for another person. It includes honoring the rights of others and understanding their perspectives. Respect is one of those leadership principles that comes from deep within you. It’s very difficult to just manufacture an attitude of humility or gratitude on a whim.

The person who is able to exhibit these traits can do so because this is part of the fabric of who they are. And respect is about relationships — about how we interact and treat others.

Werner Erhard once said, “You don’t have to go looking for love when it’s where you come from.” You could easily substitute the word “respect” for love here and see a similar reality.

Respect is a two-way street, and the Golden Rule covers both dimensions: giving respect and winning respect. You give respect when you appreciate others, when you use good manners, and when you listen fully. You win your parents’ respect by honoring them. Respect grows when you love and care for others. The famous expression “what goes around comes around” applies in this realm.

It’s one thing to understand the concept of respect, but what about practicing it? In the Josephson Institute’s program Character Counts, they advocate several do’s and don’ts. Some of the do’s: be polite, understand differences, and judge people on their merits. The don’ts include don’t insult, interrupt, put down or take advantage of others and don’t mistreat their property. A huge don’t is don’t use foul language — it doesn’t really add anything to the conversation.

Other ways to show respect include expressing gratitude by saying “please” and “thank you.” Try loving your neighbor with kindness. Seek meaning for yourself while honoring the faith of the other person. And finally, admit your mistakes, say you’re sorry, and then move on.

As you reflect on this important leadership principle, remember that God has made us all unique. We each have different bodies, different ideas, and different opinions.

One of our most important and difficult tasks is to try to understand these differences. To allow each person to be who he or she is honors both yourself and them. This approach goes a long way to building trust, and trust comes when respect is shown. Given all of this, how does respect show up in your life and your leadership?

This column has been written in connection with Exploring Potential, a character development program offered in Eagle County high schools. John Horan-Kates is the president of the Vail Leadership Institute. He can be reached at 926-7800 or

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