“It is the province of knowledge to speak. And it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
The title of this blog demands something that appears to be difficult for far too many people. Why is it hard to listen and think? It is hard work, that’s why! We have just finished with another outrageous election cycle at the local, state and national level. How many of us know what the candidates we were for or against really stood for? I challenge you, right now write down 3 to 5 things you know for certain your candidate or for that matter the candidate you chose not to support stood for. Now that you have written them down, I ask you, are you truly certain that these things you wrote are factual. Or did you just pick it up out of a 30 second sound bite?
The majority of us seem to get our information from “talking heads” on TV. They come from one end of the political spectrum to the other. The campaign ads are for the most part untrue, so much so that TV shows have a “lair, Lair” index to assess how false the statements really are. If you listened to the debates or talked to a candidate in person, ask yourself, “Did they really answer any questions put to them or did they take you down a “rabbit hole” to nowhere till your eyes glazed over and your brain went numb.
What does this have to do with leadership you might ask? Everything is my response. More than ever we have to have leaders who listen and then critically think about the issues in front of them, their organization, community, employees, country and the future. Moreover, we need citizens and employees who do the same and hold those leaders accountable for what they say or don’t say. We need to step up and do the heavy lifting required of us to Listen and Think Critically.
“To listen fully means to pay close attention to what is being said beneath the words. You listen not only to the ‘music,’ but to the essence of the person speaking. You listen not only for what someone knows, but for what he or she is. Ears operate at the speed of sound, which is far slower than the speed of light the eyes take in. Generative listening is the art of developing deeper silences in yourself, so you can slow our mind’s hearing to your ears’ natural speed, and hear beneath the words to their meaning.” – Peter Senge