This wasn’t fourth grade phys ed where sex and strength would play a role. My paradigm: leadership knows no gender distinctions, so why was this necessary?
My mind closed. I didn’t hear the first instructions. When everyone stood up and grabbed their chairs, I had no idea what was happening.
I blindly followed the woman next to me across the room and added my chair to the circle of women’s seats, still fuming at the gender division.
There must have been directions to think about something, given the silence and pensive expressions. After several minutes, the facilitator for the women’s group opened the floor for comments.
The deeply insightful and moving comments offered by the first two, then three, then four female participants set me back on my heels. This was meaningful stuff. My pique at the-girls-versus-the-boys separation was petty.
Because one of my personal hot buttons (women’s issues) had been hit, I had rushed to judgment, failing to seek first to understand. Fortunately, I only lost five minutes of what turned out to be an extraordinary two-hour exercise.
My humble pie lessons
1) Be curious. Gather information objectively. Understand what’s being asked and the context in which it’s being asked.
Be curious, not judgmental. ~Walt Whitman
2) Hot button or not, extend the benefit of the doubt. Presume good intentions, not ill.
Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. ~Marvin J. Ashton
3) Check your personal filters to make certain your own assumptions aren’t blocking the way for all the facts and/or data. I leapt to the top of the ladder of inference in a single bound!
Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life. ~Don Miguel Ruiz
4) Listen actively and with empathy to what’s being said. Assure that what you are interpreting is really being said. Focus on the speaker, not what’s swirling in your brain.
You can hear without listening, and you can listen and not hear. ~Daniel Barenboim
5) Be humble and look for lessons to be learned!
True merit, like a river, the deeper it is, the less noise it makes. ~Edward Frederick Halifax
Image source before quote: Dreamstime