Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Longest Walk

My heart is breaking as I remember this giant of a man and his contributions to human rights and social justice. He sacrificed his marriage, time with his children and best years of his life to ensure freedom for others. He taught us dignity, grace and forgiveness. I am inspired that he lived on this earth during my lifetime.

Many have and will honor his memory. A prayer released Friday by Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba captured the essence and impact of this great man:

Go forth, revolutionary and loving soul, on your journey out of this world, in the name of God, who created you, suffered with you and liberated you. Go home Madiba, you have selflessly done all that is good, noble and honourable for God's people. We will continue where you have left off, the Lord being our helper." 
Rest in peace, Madiba. You completed your long walk to freedom  with grace, dignity and forgiveness. Thank you for what you taught us.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Does Bullying Exist in the Workplace?

The national coverage of the bullying incident reported by a player on the Miami Dolphins football team continues to dominate the news. As this story unfolds, it appears that bullying is no longer happening only to high school students. Big, strong football players can become overwhelmed by it too.

As a doctoral student studying organizational leadership and as a former career coach to college students, I began to wonder why this phenomenon appears to be growing in businesses across America. According to a recent workplace survey, one in three people say they have encountered intense hostility and hazing in the workplace. Much of it goes undetected because people live in fear of losing their jobs. 

In many cases, the workplace bully exhibits very specific and consistent behaviors. These may include making fun of the employee's speech, looks or other physical attributes in front of others or making demeaning comments when the employee offers an opinion or attempts to contribute professionally. Often these behaviors are conducted in front of others which only adds to the humiliation. The unseen behaviors may involve stealing ideas, criticizing every task or amplifying minor errors that are not business or task critical.

Workplace bullying has been shown to affect individual productivity as well as the bullied individual's physical and mental health. The bullied person can sink into isolating actions and depression which only makes them less pleasant to be around and gives the bully further ammunition. Productivity may decrease due to the bullied person taking more sick days. When the bullied employee is at work, errors may increase due to the lack of sleep and emotional fatigue.

So why wouldn't a person report this torture? Typically conversations with Human Resources professionals have left the bullied person hopeless. Human Resources staff are powerless or politically inclined to maintain the status quo. Even worse, if a human resources professional intervenes, the bullying may become more intense. In some workplaces, speaking up against a co-worker or bully boss only make things worse, so it continues to go on unreported.

A 2007 Workplace Bullying Institute survey shows, 53 percent of employers did nothing when an employee reported a workplace bullying incident. In 30 percent of cases, the person who complained got fired. If the person did not get fired, they were labeled a complainer, trouble-maker and socially ostracized. Additionally, the bullied employee's performance was more closely scrutinized making being productive virtually impossible.

All leaders know that every work environment has a dominant culture and expected performance norms. While leaders are not required to provide a stress free environment, bullying can cost a business greatly. The problem is that bullying affects everyone, not just the bullied person. Research has shown that turnover increases, morale decreases, and team performance may also decline when they observe bullying behavior toward a co-worker. Team members become very tight-lipped and robotic causing the work environment to lose its energy and creativity. 

Here a few tips for a person experiencing bullying and one for leaders:

1) Bullies exist because organizations allow them to. If the bully is thriving, it speaks to the organization's values. The bully may be a high performer or have great personal relationships with those in authority. If attempts to have honest conversations with human resources, senior leaders or the bully have failed--decide if it is worth it to stay. No job is worth losing your confidence and positive performance track record. 

2) Find a support system outside of your organization. While it may difficult to avoid going home complaining to family and friends, try to participate in activities that bring you joy and energy outside of work. Since exercise reduces stress, be sure to exercise everyday and get a good night's rest (at least 8 hours of sleep) to protect your physical and mental health.

3) Guard your heart. If you cannot immediately remove yourself from the situation, try to forgive the bully. When we don't forgive, we carry more of the burden than the person who has wronged us. Bullies are often insecure individuals. Make peace with yourself if you cannot make peace with the bully. Try to stay positive within the workplace and avoid making negative comments about the bully to co-workers.

4) Leaders, take it seriously. Leaders who fail to intervene after being made aware of bullying are equally responsible. As mentioned in number one above: bullies exist because organizations allow them to. Leaders need to try to avoid surface interventions, taking sides or ignoring the problem. Find was to mediate and resolve the concern even if it means mixing up teams. If the bully is a high performer you may be more inclined to let it go. Bullying negatively affects the bottom line, increases team turnover and reduces productivity of teams.

It is difficult to understand a painful situation like bullying if it is happening to you. Never stop believing there is good in the world. There is hope. There is a brighter future.  Mark Nepo says it best, "To be broken is no reason to see all things as broken." You will return to joy and energy.

I want to hear from you. Do you think workplace bullying is real or have we become a nation of whiners? Leave your comments below.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hope Anchors the Soul

Have you ever felt your life spinning out of control? Whether it's consequences from decisions we've made, or life happening around us, many people are dealing with great personal pain. In recent months, I thought my life was settling down after recovering from pneumonia, starting a new job and moving to a new state. Then my mom passed away.

It was Friday, August 2, 2013. That morning, I'd spoken to my sister and told her not to tell mom I was coming home to Wisconsin for the weekend because I wanted to surprise mom. A few hours later that same sister called with the news that would change everything. "Karen you need to get here now. Mom just died." My mother had been struggling with the effects of Alzheimer's disease for over two years, yet one can never truly prepare for the moment. It's the moment of hearing the words "Mom died." Then in a dreamlike state you get on planes, make funeral arrangements, greet family and friends. You walk past people doing normal things, living life with loved ones and all you want to do is cry out in grief. I cannot even begin to unfold the complexities of grief, but I know that losing my mom has changed me. No matter how close or distant you are, nor how young or old your mom--a mother's bond is the strongest of all family connections. Losing my mom has indeed been a defining moment. I'm sure I'll write more about that sometime soon.

After returning to work and my new normal, I was sure that I was done with the drama that has etched this year in my mind. Nope not yet. This past week, I was in a traffic accident. I am thankful I walked away from the wreck just a little shaken and sore. My car, well that's another story. Dealing with the insurance company, not having a car to get to work and just the burden of another problem, have tested my resolve. With my husband working in another city and being new to the area, I felt so alone as I was once again left to deal with my physical and emotional circumstances of this minor traffic accident. Many people tell me they admire how strong I am. Some days I don't feel so strong. Most days I just need a hug.

I am not sharing these things to gain pity. I know there are others who have experienced far worse things than me. I share these things to remind myself and others that every where you turn there could be someone experiencing pain that you don't always see on the outside. My faith has taught me to everything there is a reason and a season--even when your heart is breaking, your body is exhausted and you don't understand any of it. 2013 has been my season in the wilderness.

For me, the only healing I can find comes from having hope. I recently came across some words of wisdom from Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life. His tips for winning with the cards we have been dealt, resonate with me. Warren says, we all have been dealt five cards. Most of them we cannot change but one of them we can control.

1) Chemistry
The first card represents the body people are given and the chemistry that makes up their physical characteristics. We have no control over how we were created physically. While I agree that we have no control how we were physically created, I do believe that we must always take care of the one body God has given us. Even when I am overwhelmed, I try to exercise and eat nutritious foods.

2) Connections
We were made to be in relationship with others. We are wired to be connected. We all need support systems in our lives. This has been a tough one for me as I have moved to various cities throughout my career. Even when I've lived in a new place, I have often felt like a fish out of water. I have one, maybe two friends from long ago who live in different cities. I do not have the depth of connected, local friends who can support me in times of need and simply grab my hand to walk through life with me. I won't give up. I know that finding true friends is a process that requires an investment of time and shared life experiences.

3) Circumstances
We have no control over who our parents are or where we were born. Many times, we give this card way too much power. We all know we can't control circumstances. After losing my mom and being in a car accident, I have learned this in a real way. Even when you try to do things "right," negative circumstances can occur in our lives. The difference is how you choose to accept, deny or deal with the circumstances.

4) Consciousness
When it comes to this card it is all about the way you think. The way you think affects the way you act. If you want to change the way you act, start with your thoughts. If I'm acting depressed, it's because I feel depressed. You can't change a feeling – but you can change a thought. This one rings true. When I focus on all of my problems, I notice how others cannot see or experience the joy, love and openness in my heart. My entire demeanor changes. Whatever gets your attention, gets you.

5) Choices
This is the only card that you CAN control. It is the card that can either make or break the entire hand you've been dealt. It is truly the wild card. We have the power to change the direction of our lives by our choices. Perhaps God gave us the gift of choice because it can redirect all of the other cards. So today, I choose hope.

Even though I am weary and bending in the storms of life--I choose hope. When I focus on hope I am empowered to reshuffle all the other cards I have been dealt. I can only deal with life one day at at time. And I know I'll get through to the other side of all of this. One hope at a time. Helping someone in need. Encouraging someone in pain. I choose hope.What will you choose as your "wild card" to play the hand you've been dealt?  Leave your hopeful comments below...

Saturday, June 29, 2013

How are you using your 1440 minutes?

I've been thinking a lot about time lately. Life is composed of days, weeks, months and minutes. There are a limited number of minutes in each day. A total of 1440 to be exact.

Over the past two months, I have felt deeply out of balance due to the many life changes and demands on my time. I left a job I loved, became quite ill with pneumonia, moved to a new state, started a new job in a new industry all while trying to complete doctoral coursework. These past two months have forced me to become hyper-aware of time and thoughtful about how I spend it. Here's what I have learned so far:

1. Build in thinking and planning time. Each day we react and rush around to get everything done and try to stay ahead of the next demand. Somehow we equate speed with effectiveness. Indeed speed and responsiveness matter greatly in business and in life. When you answer questions or resolve a problem quickly you are showing you care enough to honor the request of another. But in our rush to "do" we have stopped thinking about what we're doing. We simply run from one thing to another with no time to truly ask ourselves, "is this necessary?" I've learned that thinking plus planning actually equates to greater speed. I'd suggest that we would be even more nimble and excellent in our actions armed with a thoughtful plan. Thinking and planning should never slow you or others down, they should in fact, make you and others more efficient and effective. Build thinking and planning time into your day, week, month or even year.

2. Choose to whom you gift time. Family, friends, church members, professors and employers will require your time daily. Giving your time to them is a precious, personal and sometimes emotional gift. I do not believe one can ever find a perfect balance when everyone needs something from you. However, I have learned that we must always negotiate and counterbalance the many demands of a well-lived life with the things that bring us joy. There are indeed things we are required to do everyday. Sometimes we cannot change that. Yet, we always have some freedom to choose how to counterbalance the stress of  life's daily requirements. Give time to the people and activities that bring you joy or allow you to re-charge while helping someone else. What makes you smile? What can you do to make another person smile? Try to do more of those things.

3. Include rest and rejuvenation time. There will always be deadlines and demands. Yet, it is important to shut off your technology and spend time listening, resting, reflecting and rejuvenating. That will take a different form for all of us. No matter how important your job, family, friends, church or other responsibilities, you will better serve all of it if you periodically remove yourself from it. Things won't fall apart without you. If they do, maybe you have taken on too much alone.  If they don't fall apart, you will have learned a great lesson. Turn it off. It's good for your mind, body and spirit. Be still and know.

4. Respect the physical body.We are not effective when we disrespect the 1440 minutes in each day. We become irritable, emotionally charged, physically ill or just plain unhappy. Well, maybe that's just how it affects me.  Nope. Some highly intelligent people have done research on how the human body is negatively affected by the stress of daily time pressures. This can lead to lack of sleep, weight gain, headaches, low immunity and overall irritability. We are not able to give our best professionally, emotionally or spiritually when we fill every minute in every day with activity. Get some exercise, or as I like to call it, "intentional movement." Sugar and caffeine only offer a temporary boost of energy.  Eat less processed foods and more natural foods. Get 6-8 hours of sleep. Respect your mind and body.

Take a moment to write down how you use your 1440 minutes. Write down 1440 on a sheet of paper, then start subtracting chunks of time (in minutes) from that number. What is left? When I did it I ended up with a minus 95 minutes each day--sometimes more. Scary. Find ways to counterbalance those things that suck up more than their fair share of your 1440 minutes. You might even have to say no to someone. Once you do, you'll be stronger, smarter, happier and more fun to be around. As for me, I'm going to go for a run, then get a massage and take a nap. By the way, there are 525,600 minutes in a year. Here's the song to prove it.

What have you learned about time? I'd love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.

Monday, May 13, 2013

What's on your leader's and team member's workplace wish lists?

The workplace is a tapestry of attitudes, beliefs, cultures, generations, and habits. Dump that into a cubicle with different ways of getting things done and it's like sharing a bathroom with a messy teenage sibling. Sometimes we see things we don't want to see. Towels on the floor. Sometimes we are frustrated and get angry. What if we started every day seeking to understand workplace dynamics from each other's vantage point? Would that change how we communicate, lead, trust, and experience work?  In the interest of trying to help leaders and teams thrive, I asked some effective leaders and high performing team members what was on their workplace relationship wish list. Here are my non-scientific results from both perspectives:

The Leader's  List for Team Members
1. Be reliable. When I ask you to do something, do it promptly. If I do not give you clear instruction or a deadline, ask me about it. I'm busy and not perfect. I am secure enough to delegate and trust you to get it done. But don't be afraid to ask questions. If I am causing delay in you completing a task, let me know.
2. Don't just tell me what you think I want to hear. Have the professional courage to honestly discuss your workload, personal concerns, organizational politics, and ideas to improve our work processes. But let's trust each other enough to talk candidly. I am confident enough to hear opposing views. All of your ideas may not be implemented and I may not be able to solve any of it. But talking it out helps us both.
3. If you make a mistake, own it. Don't avoid it, blame others, or become defensive. Sincerely apologize, discuss it with me, and learn from it. Everyone makes mistakes. It's how you respond that causes me to have a reaction of irritation or understanding. But, my worst fear is that you will make me look bad to others. While perfection causes paralysis, I do want you to do your job with excellence.
4. We will disagree. Try to understand company expectations, my preferred work style, my definition of service, and how I lead. I'll try to understand yours too. I am being asked to deliver results. I don't make this stuff up just to terrorize you. It may be uncomfortable for both of us.
5. Avoid being an expert at pointing out problems. Come to me with thoughtful solutions and creative new ideas to address problems that you see. I will listen. Sometimes the organization is not ready for your ideas, or mine. We can still do our best.

The Team Member's List for the Leader
1. Let me do my job. You hired me because I obviously have some intelligence and talents. My approach to work may be different from yours, but I will get it done. Trust me, guide me when necessary, and move out of the way.
2. Celebrate success. It's motivating to be encouraged for a job well done. Saying "thank you" for small things is nice too. But don't patronize me. Authenticity, sincerity, a day off or a bonus wouldn't hurt either.
3. Invest in my professional development. I want to learn from others in my profession and more about broader industry trends. A strong external network is good for our organization. It's good for me too. You don't know everything, neither do I.
4. Be a better listener. I need to know you will listen to my ideas and concerns without judgment. I may need to complain or  want to radically change things. I want to know you will listen, offer your perspective, but don't try to solve everything. Avoid over explaining tasks and organizational dynamics. Sometimes I need to experience the organization and not just be told about it.
5. Communicate with clarity. Tell me what you expect of me and how my job contributes to our strategic goals. Make time to create goals and strategies. If you don't know, be secure enough to tell me that too. It's not about you. If I am missing subtle cues tell me, don't block or avoid me.

At the foundation of any healthy relationship is the ongoing effort to try to see things from another person's point of view. Unhealthy relationships cause perfection paralysis, polarization, and pain. We know that our reactions and responses are influenced daily by our owns deeply ingrained thoughts, behaviors, and experiences. To lead or follow you must know yourself.  The foundation of a healthy workplace relationship is often built on lofty words--like "trust"and "respect." Trusting is difficult. Respect is complicated. None of it is easy. Yet, we spend too much time at work to be miserable.

It takes maturity, open communication, and compromise from both the leader and team member to enhance a relationship and ultimately perform at the highest levels. You do not have to sacrifice speed, excellence, joy, or satisfaction. There are no perfect leaders nor team members. The journey is arduous, not hopeless. Let's clean up that messy bathroom together. Pick up the towels off the floor. What's on your wish list?

Friday, January 25, 2013

First class or coach?

In 2010, there was extensive publicity surrounding a Jet Blue flight attendant, Steven Slater. His dramatic exit from his job raised questions about workplace anger. It's reported that Slater used profanities with an unruly passenger, decided to get off the plane, grabbed some beer, deployed the emergency slide, and slid to freedom from his employer. Shortly after this incident, a Facebook page was created in his honor, money was raised for his defense fund after being sued by his employer, and he was hailed a modern day hero. While many people have a bad day at work and think about saying, "take this job and shove it," few act on it. Slater took action in a dramatic and attention-getting fashion.  Does that make Slater a hero? I'm not so sure.

In the confinement of the workplace, emotions can spill over at perceived or real inequities. Other life events and pressures only serve to magnify those feelings and thoughts. However, it is rarely appropriate to break into a verbal rage or abruptly leave a job. Bosses can be demanding. Customers can be rude. Co-workers may irritate you. Things may appear to be in disarray. It's enough to make anyone angry. Upon deeper examination, one finds that the rage often stems from the inability to effectively deal with emotions, a lack of courageous communication, and a lack of healthy personal outlets for release. Most people do not know how to engage in healthy disagreement, negotiate deadlines, create timely solutions, or unconditionally accept one another. If you don't share similar ethics, values, or accept the pace of your workplace, it indeed may be time to leave. That's easier said than done when you have financial and family obligations. Yet even in a tough job market, you must move on if things are highly stressful in your workplace. 

Rather than exploding at the boss or abruptly leaving your organization, take time to ask yourself what you're looking for in a workplace. Are you flexible or offended when asked to do your job more efficiently or in a different way? Are you secretly harboring prejudices against your boss due to age, ethnicity, or your own pride? Is your anger more reflective of your own insecurities rather than real problems? Do you have healthy stress relievers outside of work (exercise, community service, church, etc.)? If you have a personal support system, does your support system always agree with you or challenge you to see both sides of a situation? If you honestly answered yes to most of these questions, it may be time to leave.

Once you decide to leave your job, nothing is gained by telling people off or avoiding healthy, courageous conversations that might make it better for the next person. When you leave by "sticking it to the man," it speaks volumes about your professionalism and compassion. Or lack of it. Despite his momentary satisfaction and fifteen minutes of fame, the former Jet Blue flight attendant faced criminal charges and it is reported that he could have injured the ground crew and others during his dramatic departure. The slide deployment is believed to have cost the airline $25,000. His fellow flight crew was left picking up the pieces of the damage he caused. Was this behavior irresponsible? Selfish? Courageous?

In my many years of working in various industries and with a wide variety of people, I have observed an abundance of unhealthy resentment in the workplace. We have all complained about a boss or those in leadership positions. Some of it may be justified. But the truth is that there is no perfect boss or work environment. Where ever there are humans, there will be problems. You should never accept insults, public humiliation, or physical harassment by a boss, colleague, or customer. If you are not in a genuinely abusive situation, you may have more time to assess your workplace expectations, then create a thoughtful exit strategy if your expectations do not match the realities of your ideal workplace. If you choose to stay, it means learning to respect personality quirks, adjusting to communication styles, and showing flexibility within the workplace culture. It means trying to anticipate more of what's required and whining less when you disagree. It means asking questions or negotiating deadlines. It means knowing the difference between a valid complaint and when you are simply being a diva. It means rising above conversations that encourage pettiness, insults, or gossip to further feed your dissatisfaction. Ultimately, it is healthier to move on if you don't see a way to thrive in your work environment. Just do it first class.

The Steven Slater story saddens me as I think about the people who blindly supported and encouraged him simply because they too have similar workplace issues. When all is said and done, do you prefer to travel coach or first-class? As a person of deep faith, I try to choose first-class whenever possible. First class is more caring and civilized. If you decide it is time for you to leave, try to do it with grace, dignity, compassion, and thoughtful communication. What do you think? Is that flight attendant a hero or zero? Share your thoughts below...

Monday, January 21, 2013

Honoring my ground crew and Martin Luther King, Jr.

When I ran the 26.2 miles of the Chicago Marathon in October 2012, my sister referred to herself and the cadre of family and friends supporting me as the "ground crew." During that time, she shared that the origin of the term "ground crew" was a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. So, I set out to find the speech. The term "ground crew" is referenced in Dr. King's 1964 acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize. No matter your political, religious, or educational interests, this speech is worthy of reading. Today, I honor my Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and my personal ground crew.

Martin Luther King' Jr. Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech
Oslo, Norway December 10, 1964

Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment when 22 million Negroes of the United States of America are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice. I accept this award on behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice. I am mindful that only yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, our children, crying out for brotherhood, were answered with fire hoses, snarling dogs and even death. I am mindful that only yesterday in Philadelphia, Mississippi, young people seeking to secure the right to vote were brutalized and murdered. And only yesterday more than 40 houses of worship in the State of Mississippi alone were bombed or burned because they offered a sanctuary to those who would not accept segregation. I am mindful that debilitating and grinding poverty afflicts my people and chains them to the lowest rung of the economic ladder.
Therefore, I must ask why this prize is awarded to a movement which is beleaguered and committed to unrelenting struggle; to a movement which has not won the very peace and brotherhood which is the essence of the Nobel Prize.
After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time - the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
The tortuous road which has led from Montgomery, Alabama to Oslo bears witness to this truth. This is a road over which millions of Negroes are travelling to find a new sense of dignity. This same road has opened for all Americans a new era of progress and hope. It has led to a new Civil Rights Bill, and it will, I am convinced, be widened and lengthened into a super highway of justice as Negro and white men in increasing numbers create alliances to overcome their common problems.
I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the "isness" of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal "oughtness" that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.
I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today's mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. "And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid." I still believe that We Shall overcome!
This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom. When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born.
Today I come to Oslo as a trustee, inspired and with renewed dedication to humanity. I accept this prize on behalf of all men who love peace and brotherhood. I say I come as a trustee, for in the depths of my heart I am aware that this prize is much more than an honor to me personally.
Every time I take a flight, I am always mindful of the many people who make a successful journey possible - the known pilots and the unknown ground crew. So you honor the dedicated pilots of our struggle who have sat at the controls as the freedom movement soared into orbit. You honor, once again, Chief Lutuliof South Africa, whose struggles with and for his people, are still met with the most brutal expression of man's inhumanity to man. You honor the ground crew without whose labor and sacrifices the jet flights to freedom could never have left the earth. Most of these people will never make the headline and their names will not appear in Who's Who. Yet when years have rolled past and when the blazing light of truth is focused on this marvellous age in which we live - men and women will know and children will be taught that we have a finer land, a better people, a more noble civilization - because these humble children of God were willing to suffer for righteousness' sake.
I think Alfred Nobel would know what I mean when I say that I accept this award in the spirit of a curator of some precious heirloom which he holds in trust for its true owners - all those to whom beauty is truth and truth is beauty - and in whose eyes the beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold.
From Les Prix Nobel en 1964, Editor Göran Liljestrand, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1965