In my career I have often been asked if I hate certain people. I have had many differences of opinion with people, and I have had a great number of battles with rival companies, but I can happily say I have never been driven to hate. It is the most unhelpful and unproductive of emotions, and says far more about the hater than the hated.
My friend Frank Giustra wrote eloquently about the futility of fear and hatred, and how much time is spent on emotions that are the first to disappear when we are faced with death. “To those that spend life fearing and hating others, why waste your life?”
As a child, if I ever said anything bad about somebody else, my parents would make me stand in front of the mirror for a long time. Their point, well made, was that my cruel words reflected badly on me. To this day, I always try to see the best of people, and will always try to make amends if I have a disagreement with somebody.
Perhaps the best example is in the aftermath of the Dirty Tricks campaign by British Airways. I fought tooth and nail to protect my company, Virgin Atlantic, but I was more than happy to invite BA’s Chief Executive Sir Colin Marshall round to my house for lunch. We cleared the air and he left with us on friendly terms.
As Frank said: “Hate consumes us and more often than not, it is a useless and misplaced emotion. We work ourselves up into a frenzy over misunderstandings, presumptions and fear, that in most cases we eventually get over or wonder why we ever felt in the first place.”
One of the most important lessons I was fortunate enough to learn from Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu is the power of forgiveness. Everyone deserves freedom to move forward. Arch calls forgiveness “the miracle medicine”, and it is a great way to move towards peace.
If you find yourself experiencing feelings of hatred boiling up, think about how much time you will waste creating more anger. Then think about how you could spend that time differently. I guarantee you’ll feel a little better, and the world will be a little happier.
I would suggest that everyone reading this ring up someone that they have fallen out with in their lives and invite them out for lunch or dinner. It could be an ex-partner, an old friend turned enemy, or a family member. Remember, there's always two sides to every story and give them the benefit of the doubt.