F3 Q’s: Such Compassion

“I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.”  ― Mother Teresa

I’m a retired Navy officer.  I currently work as fire captain in a big city firehouse.  I’ve spent the last twenty-eight years leading teams immersed in adrenaline-heavy, rough and tumble, predominantly-male environments.   You might think there’s not much room in such environments for compassion, but I’ve found the exact opposite to be true.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my journey, it’s that compassion might be the MOST ESSENTIAL trait for a leader.

To understand why this is so, it is important to truly understand compassion.   Compassion is not about feeling sorry for someone.  It’s not about giving charity.  It’s not even really about knowing how another person feels.

The Latin root com means “with.”  The Latin root passio means “suffering.”  Thus compassion literally means “with the suffering” or “co-suffering.”

George Washington led with compassion at Valley Forge.

washington at valley forge


Martin Luther King, Jr. led with compassion from Birmingham jail.


When I’m asked who I turn to as a leadership role model, my number one answer is Blessed Teresa of Calcutta… Mother Teresa.   I could go on all day about the reasons she’s my leadership hero, but there is no doubt that she changed the world by leading with compassion from the streets of Calcutta.

mother t

So compassion is not a female thing.  It’s not a male thing.  It’s not a soft and fuzzy feeling, nor is it about forgiveness, nor handouts, nor crying, nor none of that.

Why are F3 Q’s great leaders?  Because they are compassionate leaders.  Ultimately compassion is a with thing.  You want to lead with compassion?  You just gotta lead with.

not a boss

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