Posts Tagged ‘Listening’

Waze AppMore out of curiosity than necessity today, I used the smart phone app Waze on the 190-mile round trip to and from my parents’ farm.  I wanted to see how accurate it was in mapping my progress using GPS and warning me of potential trouble spots along the route.  It does much more than that, but keeping abreast of traffic issues – especially in our first winter weather conditions – was the main need.

I was pleased with how it performed.  It did great showing my place on the road, all nearby roads, and zoomed in or out based on the speed I was traveling.  When completely stopped, it popped up some displays showing nearby accidents or hazards or reports from other Waze users, going back to the navigational map automatically when the car started moving again.

One of the surprises was when the female voice suddenly warned me of things ahead like a car stopped on the shoulder of the road or, as it did the other night, an accident ahead.  Overall, I was quite pleased with the app and can see using it frequently when I drive in the city or on longer trips.

The experience made me think about the value of things like seeing the bigger picture rather than just what lies immediately ahead, and the value of having someone warn you when you are heading down a potentially hazardous or troublesome path.  When it comes to traffic and the value of GPS, we likely don’t argue with the benefit and readily trust the information given (although it can be inaccurate, of course).

However, what about other life paths we follow and decisions we make daily.  Are they done with a larger, long-term picture in mind or with only the next few moments under consideration?  How open are we to the early warnings of friends, family and coworkers, or do we insist on traveling down some predetermined road because it’s what we want come hell or high water?

It seems like we ought to be more open to receiving guidance – not just giving it, and not only after we’ve barreled our way into formidable roadblocks.

Leap year lesson #356 is Listen to early warnings.

I watched Tuesday night’s second presidential debate with great interest.  Although I am conservative and will vote accordingly, I genuinely tried to listen to each exchange and hear it from the standpoint of an undecided voter in order to make my own judgment about the potential impact of the debate on that all-important segment of the voting population who will determine the winner of the election.  I wasn’t listening in order to cheer on every punch my candidate threw or to combat every point made by the other side.  I seriously wanted to sit with a notepad in hand and put a simple tick mark in a column for Romney, Obama or Draw after each question’s series of responses.  While I won’t share the score in all three columns here, I will say that I put more tick marks in the Draw column than in either of the other two.

It was a challenge to try to listen to each speaker and imagine how the general population might respond to the debate.  It is impossible, of course, to completely separate our biases from our ultimate judgments of who wins or loses arguments.  It is, however, possible to try to do a far fairer job of it than we typically do in politics and other areas of life.  It is not difficult at all (if we try) to be more unbiased than the spinmeisters who clutter the airwaves after a debate.

Our country is as polarized as I’ve ever seen it politically.  No matter which side wins in November, about half the country will be disappointed.  Many will hold grudges and be uncooperative until they get a chance to win again in 2016.  That’s a shame.

Part of the leadership we need is to unite our people around common concerns and purposes.  For someone to lead that way, he will have to do the very hard thing of being as unbiased as possible, listen to all, work across the aisle, and then make a decision and own it.  Anything less will just perpetuate the division.

That is no small task.  I wish the eventual winner well.

Leap year lesson #290 is Bringing people together takes real leadership.