Investing in People Who Don’t Deserve It

At the end of two intense days of learning in an executive program, one of the participants approached me.  In the concluding session, she had had an insight.  She told me, “I just realized I have been a transformational mentor.  I had an amazing young man who came from a very deprived background.  I invested great energy in him because I thought he deserved it.  He has gone on to do great things.”

I asked her, what would happen if she invested the same amount of energy in the people who did not deserve it?  What if being a leader means supplementing the notions of justice, exchange, and transaction with vision, purpose, and love?  Justice is not replaced; it is enlarged.  It is joined with and animated by concern.

This integration is possible when we enter the fundamental state of leadership.  First we cut through all the distractions and clarify our own highest purpose.  We then fully invest and move toward the purpose with integrity, empathy, and humility.  In such a state we grow and because our own potential is being realized, we begin to see the potential in the people around us.  Because we are creating our best self, we feel love for self and in that elevated state we see the potential in others.  We invest our energy even in the people who do not deserve it.  In giving them our energy, we are giving them life.  We are inviting them to open up and be more fully alive, to enact their best selves.

When justice and love are inclusive of one another, the human network evolves.  It is when we integrate contrasting virtues that we begin to create an unconventional culture.  It is a culture of purpose, authenticity, unity, and learning.  In the newly emerging, positive culture, people can pursue the collective purpose while realizing their own potential.  The collective good and the individual good become one.  The human network becomes a dynamic whole characterized by social excellence.  The dynamics become transformational and everyone wins.



  • What does it mean to be a transformational influence in the life of another?
  • How is transformational influence linked to performing outside expectations?
  • What would it mean for you to invest in the people who do not deserve it?
  • How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?

2 comments on “Investing in People Who Don’t Deserve It

  1. Great post. Giving and helping are natural human conditions. I find it very hard not to help. Transformatonal influence helps me feel I am part of the lives of those around me. My expectations are often not realized since I am often happily surprised by the actions of others when they are given the chance. I am happy to give and support without the expectation of appreciation, or acknowledgement or return on investment. Just knowing that I was able to provide something someone needed is payback enough. The word deserve to me is too subjective. I do not wish to be a judge. Providing energy and options to help others achieve their goals and the company’s goals can only make the work place a much better organization. Helping others can only make the world a better place.

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