Saturday, January 3, 2015

Empathy is a Good Start

Most of your ideas for bringing about a positive change likely come from a single perspective -- yours.  

Typically it might go like this, something doesn't look right, sound right, or impacts your senses in a way that evokes a visceral response. Instinctively you come up with a set of solutions you could envision. Then, as you evaluate the various actions you might take to implement these changes, you are overcome with a fear of how others might react to your actions. At this point, you abandon the thinking because it seems too personally risky to rock the boat.

At least this is the way it often works with me. 

“Put yourself in their shoes — look at the world through their eyes."    -- Barack Obama
Dr. Samuel M. Richards,  Penn State University Senior Lecturer in Sociology, at a Ted Talk he gave in 2010
The key words from above are, "personally risky".  What if the immediate benefits or risks of your plan of action were to be viewed from perspectives outside your immediate world and the usual suspects?   Would you uncover evidence allowing to you broaden the benefit or spread the risk?

Empathy provides another lens to view the implications of change.

This past week my good friend Mikey urged me to watch the video I've embedded below.  It is Dr. Samuel M. Richards,  Penn State University Senior Lecturer in Sociology, at a Ted Talk he gave in 2010 concerning empathy. Without spoiling your viewing, I will simply say that after watching it, it made me think that risk is a point-of-view, and that solidly considering the perspectives of others can often change the risk equation in favor of action.

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Positive success stories are welcome.