“The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.”
This quote from Pema Chödrön is worthy of our attention. The reason is contained in her statement’s key word.
But what is that word? Is it believe? Is it unavailable? We can’t know how Ms. Chödrön would answer, but to me, the keyword is cling.
Yes, knowing and honoring our beliefs and our truths is an important part of leading with integrity. But when we cling to our truths, we may turn a blind eye to facts when they challenge the beliefs we hold so dear. We may also turn away from the opinions of – or the evidence offered by – others because they don’t match our own.
Well… so what if we do this? Does it really matter if we ignore other points of view or even facts? Maybe it doesn’t matter in some instances, but if we are leading, managing and providing vital services such as healthcare, it matters a lot. If we cling to our points of view to the exclusion of differing data, we may ignore vital information that affects the outcomes we are working so hard to produce.
What about the opinions of others when we strongly believe we are right? If they come forward with points of view that are not factual, but expressed with commitment and conviction, does our belief give us license to dismiss their offerings? I don’t think so. In many situations, our co-workers deserve the benefit of our listening and our respect. This doesn’t mean we are going to change our minds, but it does mean we are secure enough in our beliefs and ourselves to consider other points of view, even when they are very different from our own.
Does this all seem obvious? Maybe… but as leaders who move fast and juggle many demands, we can unintentionally close our minds and hearts when we cling to a belief and see it as is the only one that’s true. Pema Chödrön got it right.