The Tale of Two Americas
When I first came to Loretto, I began a practice of sitting down with all of my employees – from fellow executives to those who staffed our day-to-day operations. Why? To listen to them. As you can imagine, it is time-consuming to build this into my schedule – and in the beginning, many suggested I was naïve and/or wasting my time. To the contrary, this has become one of the foundations of my leadership – and you’ll notice it referenced often in my book, and throughout this blog. Why? Because I have allowed myself not only to learn but also to make leadership decisions based on these conversations.
You see, there is a diverse and broad spectrum of life experiences out there – we know our own, and those of our family and friends well. However, there are life experiences outside of our bubble that we aren’t familiar with and may not understand at all. Hence my conclusion – in the 21st Century, we live in two Americas. Full disclosure: this post is not in any way intended to initiate a political discussion.
The two Americas are one for those who are financially comfortable, and another for those who are not. Acknowledging that is not endorsing the political left or right, it’s not asserting this duality is right or wrong. We can agree on the fact that these two groups exist, can’t we?
There are plenty of articles suggesting that we’re losing empathy, that we lack compassion – making it sound like we live in a world where even though people may agree these two Americas exist, they don’t care about the “other America.” And I don’t believe it for a minute.
It doesn’t matter to me which side of the divide you currently stand on – I believe what both sides are missing is understanding. We aren’t indifferent; we just don’t understand the other side. How do we get understanding? We open dialogue, and we listen – truly listen, with ears that are open for learning. You’ll be amazed at what you learn – trust me.