"We must be silent before we can listen, we must listen before we can learn, we must learn before we can prepare, we must prepare before we can serve, we must serve before we can lead"
– William Arthur Ward
Diane Sawyer once said that over her career she had learnt that “.....there is no substitute for paying attention.”
At face value this is an obvious statement - particularly for a journalist who makes her living through curiosity. But it is much more than a statement of the obvious.
Diane Sawyer is a world renowned journalist who, in many respects, broke the glass ceiling of the American media establishment. She has interviewed Royalty, Presidents, Celebrity A-listers, criminals & killers. She rose to be Anchor of ABC News in the United States (the first full-time female lead of that program).
I don’t know Diane Sawyer but with a resume like that I would not blame her for having a very healthy respect and fondness for herself, of perhaps having an ‘ego’ and maybe being a bit narcissistic even. And maybe she is – I don’t know. No matter. Because ultimately Diane Sawyer understands that when she is in that moment, face to face with her interviewee, that
“there is no substitute for paying attention.”
And how does Diane Sawyer, and every great interviewer and journalist for that matter, pay attention?
They are silent.
They pay attention by listening. And to listen they are silent.
Great listeners understand and act with the power of silence. Great people, parents, managers and leaders understand and act with the power of silence.
And silence IS an act. It is THE act of paying attention, of listening.
Listening and paying attention to others is the first, and perhaps easier, of steps. The second, and more difficult step, is to listen and pay attention to ones self. To become one's own "Listener". For it is in the listening to our selves that we will find the answers we are truly searching for.