2017 and the Return of Listening
It seems you can’t go anywhere without meeting someone who thought 2016 was a steaming pile of horse crap. And what’s amazing is how varied the reasons for discontent are: from Bowie to Brexit to the boob in the White House (God help us all).
We actually had a pretty good year. Business grew at a record pace, we got to work with some pretty amazing companies and we learned a ton about a ton of stuff ranging from construction equipment to sports gambling to HIV survival rates in Ontario.
But what we also did throughout the year was a lot of yelling. And a lot of not listening to each other. And it wasn’t just in the political realm. It seems to us that people have temporarily forgotten how to talk to each other — and to hear each other.
And look, we get it. Emotions have been charged all year, and that rage leads to selfishness — not selfishness like you’re only looking out for yourself, but selfishness that you can only consider your point of view and everybody else’s is adversarial, regardless of how much merit it has.
This is not good for two main reasons: we’re losing perspective and we’re making poor decisions.
There’s a concept in social media called the “Eco Chamber.” Essentially, this means people are only being fed content that validates their opinions, and nothing that challenges them. Thing is, progress is forged through challenge. This lack of perspective directly led to the American Democratic Party and the UK’s Pro-EU swing and misses, the blind faith far too many people have put in nationalistic leaders, the general lack of empathy for the “others” among us and a lot of finger-pointing and shouting.
So here’s what we propose for January: a return to the 80/20 rule.
That means you should be listening to others 80 percent of the time and talking 20 percent of the time. And by listening, we also mean reading. Make a commitment to hear and read opinions — all of them. Some will be crazy, and that’s okay. Because you don’t know what sane and lucid is if you don’t know what crazy is.
Every once in a while on this blog, we’ll highlight some of the more, um, colourful opinions we come across — as long as they’re well-written. Because if nothing else, we always appreciate a well-told story.