Clear Confident Leader Weekly Observer, Issue #41
From the Greenbelt of Boise, Idaho, 50° temperature swing, 95° to 45°
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
– Maya Angelou
Sitting in the darkened living room I listened to stories being told, full of emotion, loss and loving memories. The shades were drawn on the windows and the lights down low as family, friends and people from the community came together.
A fifteen-year-old Latina, sophomore in my high school, had been abused and murdered on her way home from school. The stories I heard, were about how she cared for her family and friends, and found ways every day to make a difference in their lives.
As a sixteen-year-old white kid, all I could do was listen and reflect on what I heard. It is incredibly unfortunate that it takes tragedies to remind us what we care about. How did I get there that day?
I grew up listening to stories sitting at the table and on the porch with my grandparents (English and Dutch, French and Italian) and family and friends. One grandfather was a Methodist minister who found a way to weave Peanuts comic strips into his sermon. Something always happened to Charlie Brown, and my grandfather always found a way to illustrate, it is what we do with what life brings us that makes all the difference.
It was fall of my junior year that a Jewish friend of mine persisted in encouraging me to play water polo and join the high school newspaper staff. The first story I was assigned to write was about Paula.
I was at a loss of how to approach it. My mom suggested I call Louise.
My memory of Louise is of a powerful presence, full of love, laughter, and stern advice about the realities of life. As a Black woman who led family social services, she knew most people in town, and knew how to respond to most any kind of situation.
Louise said, come with me. She also told me, when we get there just listen and be willing to offer what you’ve heard that she really cared about.
Life can bring a lot of uncomfortable things our way. By entering into the situation, and listening to ourselves and those around us, we can discover what we care about.
We create a better future by listening to the many people around us that may appear to be different, and finding what we care about together. It most often is a common set of interests for family, friends and making a difference in the lives of those around us.
As leaders with our families, friends, organizations and communities, entering in to listen and find what we care about together is now more important than ever.
Let’s create a better future today!