"Having the space to listen with compassion is essential to being a true friend, a true colleague, a true parent, a true partner." Thich Nhat Hanh, from Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of NoiseHow many of you find that you don’t listen well in your role as leaders? I find that out every single day of my life. In the job of being a school leader, my mind races through the day. Even when I am sitting still, my mind is elsewhere. It’s chasing those classroom observations I have yet to do. It is preoccupied with a specific issue involving a teacher, parent, and student. It is racing about so much, there are times I just don’t listen to what anyone else has to say. It’s not that I am stubborn; its that my mind is tuned in to what Thich Nhat Hanh calls Radio Station NST, and the NST stands for “Non-Stop-Thinking."
How effective as compassionate leaders can we really be with our minds so distracted? I suspect not very much. So, what’s the answer? I think Hanh offers a pretty solid answer: we have to begin with ourselves.
“If we want to help others, we need to have peace inside,” Hanh writes and teaches. We have to focus on creating this peace within ourselves or else, we’re wasting everybody’s time, including our own.
We need to take time today and listen inwardly. Have compassion on yourself first and listen; then you can have genuine compassion for others.