“Self-respect is the fruit of discipline; the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself.” – Abraham Heschel

The other day, my grandmother told me something that made me feel really good: she told me I have dignity. It’s made me think about the ways I define dignity and how I carry it out in my life.

I looked up the definition of dignity, and it states:

  • self-respect: a proper sense of pride and self-respect
  • seriousness in behavior: seriousness, respectfulness, or formality in somebody’s behavior and bearing
  • worthiness: the condition of being worthy of respect, esteem, or honor
  • due respect: the respect or honor that a high rank or position should be shown
  • high office: a high rank, position, or honor

There’s a theme here… and it comes down to respect.

There are so many different forms of respect.

  • There is self-respect, which I’m happy is listed first in the definition, because I would prioritize it first as well. It’s about listening to yourself, not judging your feelings or emotions, and loving yourself for who you are. Which is truly the foundation upon all your future relationships.
  • There is respect for friends and family, making sure that instead of taking anyone in your life for granted, you appreciate and accept everyone for who they are and help them celebrate themselves… because that’s not something we do enough.
  • There is respect for others in the sense that leaders, and all of us, must respect everyone around them. This brings me back to a specific sentence when I developed my personal mission statement: “I incorporate leadership into my life by showing initiative, going for opportunities at full force, and always acting with respect for others.”
  • There is respect for the earth and where we have come from. We must take care of the world we are in, its plants and animals, as they cannot take care of themselves in the same ways we can.

Dignity plays a huge role in the nonprofit sector as well. We must always treat our clients with the utmost respect, to bring them up from challenging situations and instill in them the tools they need to thrive. In the office, we must treat our colleagues with respect. It can be difficult to always act with tact and grace when there are challenging personalities or differing opinions, but it’s critical for the success of your nonprofit.

My grandmother paid me a huge compliment by telling me that, and it’s something I will always remember. Dignity is not something to be taken lightly, and I appreciate that those I love believe I deserve it.


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