The open-minded see the truth in different things; the narrow –minded see only the differences. Anonymous

During the course of a recent discussion about current events, I referenced the parable of “the blind men from India and the elephant.” For those of you not familiar with this tale, it involves a group of vision- impaired individuals who are arguing about what an elephant looks like. One man emphatically asserts, as he feels the beast’s tail, that, “an elephant is like a rope.” Another man, wrapping his arms around a massive leg, retorts, “No, you are wrong. An elephant is like a huge tree.” A third man chimes in, as he surveys the elephant’s trunk, “You are both wrong. Clearly, this creature is like a great hose.” Other blind men enter the fray, claiming that the elephant is like a wall, or spear, or even a mountain.

Those of us who possess the sense of sight have a clearer perspective of the nature of this huge mammal. We are aware of the folly, but also the partial accuracy, of the debating blind men. Each holds a part of the identity puzzle of the pachyderm’s nature. Yet their inability, or unwillingness, to listen to their associates keeps them, if you will, in the dark.

My last newsletter entitled, “The Myth of the Root Cause,” plumbed a similar topic; there is inherent danger in proceeding with half-truths. Watching the news over recent days, we see Americans passionately expressing a point of view that has merit to it. But I also see, like our blind men, that very little listening is open to accepting another’s point of view.

One of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People states:

Seek first to understand over being understood.

Someone else (maybe me) once observed,

“No one ever learned anything with his/her mouth open.”

Today’s message is both clear and obvious: Do more listening (and learning) than speaking. And please, do not be blind to another’s point of view. They likely possess, like the other blind men, a portion of the truth that can enlighten all of us.

A narrow mind and a wide mouth usually go together. Anonymous