Wednesday, March 27, 2013

AGAPE (ah gah pay) in Action

I am the administrator of a focused Facebook group of frontline employees of my airline employer.  Our stated mission is to promote unity, harmony & solidarity following the recent mega-merger of two airline subsidiaries.  Our focus in executing that mission is positivity and mutual empowerment.  The vision statement of our group reads:

"I am the face of XXXXX, the face that my customers will remember when they reminisce about their flight experience. I am honored to follow in a proud, storied tradition of service and safety.

I am committed to my own success, to the success of my colleagues, and to that of my company. The opinions of detractors who attempt to distract us from achieving our potential are just that: opinions and distractions.

I do not need a charismatic leader at the helm of XXXX to tell me that I am a good, worthy, respected member of a winning team whose future promises to be so much brighter than its collective past.

Because I declare it every time I put on my uniform and go to work....

One trip, one crew, one flight, one passenger-at-a-time.

THIS is the way F O R W A R D > > > >"

Each morning, I log on and read the fascinating anecdotes and questions of my peers who provide that pivotal link between corporation and customer.  To say that I am proud of my colleagues and what we accomplish together everyday is the height of understatement!

Often, a simple customer interaction becomes a "life event" to be shared and venerated.  For example:

"I had a couple sitting in 5 first from LHR to IAH yesterday...they were so amazing and gracious that I WANTED to serve them and do anything possible to make their journey easy. That's why I do my's for those amazing people who cross paths with me ever so often...they make it all worth while. Oh, and did I mention they were obviously happily married and she was disabled? She never asked for anything special and didn't even know she needed ANY assistance..he did it all for her...didn't know they needed a wheelchair till landing when I asked..and they said her chair and walker had been gate checked. Then they thanked ME for all I had done to make their flight so nice....what the hell had I done? All I did was for every asshole I have to serve and smile and take care of...I will remember these amazing people that appreciated every little thing I did. Everyone has a story...everyone has something going on...I am there to win one more for customer at a serve and at a time."

I recognize the feeling of "fullness" or "fulfillment" that my colleague describes in that passage.  Perhaps you do too.  It's unfortunate that English doesn't lend itself to adequately describe the feeling with a word.   But ancient Greek had precisely the right word for the concept described:  AGAPE.

AGAPE is a variant of what we think of as "love".  Loosely, it means that feeling of love that we have without condition or restriction, pure, chaste, spontaneous, NOT physical.  Remember the old Coca Cola commercial (from the 1970s, I think)?  "I'd like to teach the world to sing..."  How does that make YOU feel when you remember it?  THAT's AGAPE!

It's comforting to know that, whether or not we have the word for it, the concept of AGAPE is alive and well in the 21st century!

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