The Energizer

Resilient Insights for Work & Life

In 2020, forget about your eyes. Work on your ears.

by Eileen McDargh, Chief Energy Officer - Monday, February 03, 2020
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The only time I ever heard the term 2020 was in connection with my eyesight—not great at all. In fact, in sixth grade, the ophthalmologist told Mother that without correction, I’d be considered legally blind! Thus, I wore ugly glasses to see the blackboard and tried to disguise the fact that I recognized friends by their shape and the way they walked. Thankfully, in college, I got contact lens and my world changed. Now, years later, contacts are gone and glasses are back on my face for both distance and reading.

Today, I am not worried about my vision. I am more concerned about my hearing… specifically, my ability to deeply listen. As we enter this new decade, I believe our single greatest determinant to our survival as a nation and a planet is to become much better listeners.

Not an easy task!

To listen without judgment and criticism seems almost impossible. And yet, when we can sit with compassion and curiosity for “the other” amazing outcomes are possible. I just finished reading two books by Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. Pick up Tattoos on the Heart and Barking to The Choir. I dare you to read his exquisite writing and compassion for dealing with, helping, and living with the gangs in Los Angeles and not become moved to tears as well as moved to laugh and pray.

How quickly my own pre-conceived notions were blown away as I slowly understood the background that led to violence. In these homies and homegirl histories are accounts of children literally tortured and abandoned by a parent. Alcoholic and addicted parents, mentally ill parents, some who never even knew a parent but roamed the streets as early as nine years old—you will find the stories here.

What Boyle offers in his books is an invitation to listen without judgement, to help create a community where there is no division, no “us”, no “them”: but simply all of us. You begin to understand why Homeboy Industries is the largest, most successful gang-intervention program in the world.

So now you are thinking, “But, Eileen, I don’t deal with gangs in my world!” Agreed. But we all deal with people who are different from us—whether politically or ethnically—whether by gender or by creed. My “vision” for 2020 is that I must strive to be a more compassionate listener. I must learn to let the person in front of me know they matter even as I try and understand. From hurting youngsters to angry adults, feeling estranged from a caring community (not a manipulative group) only feeds negative outcomes.

What a world it would be if platitudes of faith become actions for hearing and seeing God in the other.

Another article you may enjoy is "If Leaders Can't Hear -- How Will They Ever Listen?".  You can read it here.



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Eileen McDargh Keynote Speaker Blog Author

About Eileen!

Since beginning her consulting and training practice in 1980, Eileen has become noted for her ability to speak the truth with clarity, wisdom, humor and compassion. Long-standing clients and repeat engagements attest to her commitment to make a difference in minds, hearts and spirits of organizations and individuals. She draws upon practical business know-how, life's experiences and years of consulting to major national and international organizations that have ranged from global pharmaceuticals to the US Armed Forces, from health care associations to religious institutions. Executive Excellence magazine selected her as one of the top 100 thought leaders in leadership and among the top ten consultant providers of leadership development.

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