In 1999 I read Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for the first time. One of the stories in that book that captured my attention was about David Lilienthal, a man that was commissioned to head the new Atomic Energy Commission.
He brought together a very diverse bunch of influential individuals. And although they had a huge agenda and the press was pushing them for results he believed that efficiency was not the first priority – synergy was. So he wisely invested time facilitating relationship building, causing them to deeply understand each other’s history, goals, passions, and perspectives and transforming a group of individuals into a passionate team.
This is how Stephen Covey describes the result: “The respect among the members of the commission was so high that if there was disagreement, instead of opposition and defense, there was a genuine effort to understand. The attitude was, “If a person of your intelligence and competence and commitment disagrees with me, then there must be something to your disagreement that I don’t understand, and I need to understand it. You have a perspective, a frame of reference I need to look at.”
Since the time that I first read that book I have carried that story in my soul,always remembering the impact that real relationships had on very diverse and very powerful people.
I’m sharing this story with you to emphasize that seeking to understand and dialog with those that are strongly opposed to your convictions is not a fluffy fairy tale.
Highly intelligent and highly effective people that have taken the time to do this have developed incredible relationships, gained amazing perspectives, grown personally and professionally and made wiser decisions as a result of their shared knowledge and collaboration.
So my challenge to you continues… Will you dare to seek out those that hold wildly different views and seek to understand them and dialog with them?
- I’m doing it too! And will share in my next post, one of the things I’m doing and what I’m learning.
In the meantime, follow this link to read about the uncommon friendship and deep respect that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg shared with Justice Scalia before his recent death. And see how their relationship impacted her professionally.
If you don’t engage those who hold dissenting opinions and viewpoints in candid and open discussions, you will struggle in developing to your true intellectual potential. Mike Myatt
Check out part III in the series here: Breaking the Cycle of Division – Unity Begins with You!