How A Korean Handshake and a Smile Can Help You

North Korean and South Korean Leaders meet to reconcile

United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres applauded this week’s historic Korean summit, noting that people around the world were “moved by the powerful imagery.”  He’s right, it certainly moved me.  The historic scenes should have moved you too.  Here’s why…


Korean Leaders show the way.


Leadership is not a position or a title that can be held without action.   Leaders set the example, and model the way forward.  I’ve long been a believer that the world is short a few good leaders at present.  Whilst this post is not about world leaders, I really want to reflect on the power of this historic Korean moment and what it means for you and I.


Watching the warm, friendly manner in which North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-In both crossed ‘enemy’ lines after a lengthy period of post-war tension, was remarkable.  I never expected to see the small gestures, warm touches, beaming smiles, and friendly expressions.  Yes, there were television cameras broadcasting these images around the world, but you simply cannot fake warmth, energy and sincerity.


Only time will tell if their intentions are true.  For me though, the most telling moment came from Kim Jong Un.  Having already stepped across the border, he surprised all when he asked his South Korean counterpart to reciprocate, by also setting foot inside his country.  Although largely symbolic, this to me was telling from a man who has never shown the world any hint of kindness.  Leaders model the way.


History Shows You the Way Forward


This historic moment from two leaders set an example not only for their respective nations, but for many leaders around the globe, who so often let ego get in the way of peace, stability and prosperity.  In terms of strained cross-border relations, and threats of nuclear action, this situation has been as tense as they come, for years.


See the footage of the historic handshake here.


Wars have been fought for centuries and the damage can last for decades.  In most cases, wars are initiaited by governments, not by populations, and are fought over land, religion, principles, revenge and resources.  This historic Korean truce shows you and I that if  North and South Korea can put their differences aside, then perhaps you and I can lay down our own fiercest rivalries.  No ongoing feud of yours is insurmountable.



Be a Leader and Take the First Step.



Who do you need to reach out to?  What relationship needs to be repaired?  Maybe its a work colleague who stepped on your toes, a friend who betrayed you, or a family member you haven’t spoken to for many years.  Life is too short for enemies.  If you want to defeat your enemy, then make him your friend.


If you want to make peace with your enemy, work with your enemy.  Then he becomes your partner.          – Nelson Mandela


Nelson Mandela was another great leader who showed the world how forgiveness, and working with your enemy, can bring about great change.  We have these examples from history in so many forms, so what’s holding you back?


A few Tips to Help You Repair a Relationship:


  • Forgive first.  Remember that holding onto resentment is like drinking poison and hoping that your enemy suffers.  This type of resentment does more harm to you, than the person you resent.


  • Make the first move.  So often, all a reconciliation needs is a first move.  Be the leader.  The leader goes first.  Lead yourself out of your own comfort zones or challenging times by walking through the door first.  Once you make the move, you will find so many other doors open for you that you never even knew existed.  Be intentional about making this change.


  • Be Warm.  Sincerity cannot be faked.  If you want to repair a relationship, or win over an enemy, start by putting a smile on your face.  When somebody smiles at you, you cannot help but smile back.  A genuine smile projects your warmth in any situation.  If you need reminding, watch the clip of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and see the warmth on his face when he smiles.  Who knew he had that within him?


  • Be Vulnerable.  This is important.  Nothing is more powerful in terms of building a relationship and creating trust than being vulnerable.  Vulnerability doesn’t show weakness.  In fact, if anything, it shows strength.  It takes a strong person to open up and be real, especially in a situation where you genuinely want to repair a relationship that means something to you.


  • Listen.  Watching the two Korean leaders discuss their issues with one another, you could see that both men were listening attentively.  Being a good listener is an invaluable skill, as it shows the other person that you respect their thoughts and opinions.  Try not to interrupt them every few sentences.  Listen with the intention to understand, not with the intention to reply.


Making the first move to repair an ongoing feud is a big deal.  You have no idea how your resentment towards another holds you back until you finally free yourself from this poison.  Therefore the sooner you realise that your life will be better off the moment you forgive and move on, the better.  If the Korean leaders can begin this journey, there is no reason why other feuding regions and religions cannot do the same.


Come to think of it, it’s the same for you and I.


Grant Gavin is an international speaker and award-winning entrepreneur, who coaches sales people to become better versions of themselves.  For more info visit his website, and make contact.




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