Sunday, April 29, 2012

#17: Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.

I had the joy of spending three days back on Drake University's campus this week.  Those of you who know me well (and even not-so-well) are aware that one of my greatest passions in life is my alma mater.  As I celebrated my 10-year reunion at Drake, I reflected back on everything the University has done for me.

When I think of Principle 17, I think of my Drake experience.  I came to Drake as a young woman who had lived her entire life in small town Iowa (for the record, an upbringing I loved!).  When I stepped foot on campus, I left behind a world of familiarity and comfort and I entered a world much bigger than I knew existed.  I took classes covering Judaism and Islam, as well as the rhetoric of presidential politics and race.  My eyes were opened.  Although I didn't agree with everything I saw and heard (that's what makes the world go round), I did learn to see things from another's point of view.  This is a trait that has served me well over the past decade.  Exhibit A: I am one of the few non-accountants working in an accounting firm.  My brain works a little differently than most of my colleagues but I have come to respect and admire the way they think even if it "throws me for a loop" sometimes.

When I was on campus this weekend, I was reminded of one person who lives this principle to the fullest: a role model to many including myself, Dr. Don "Bulldog" Adams.  I had my first real conversation with Dr. Adams a few years ago.  I remember telling my husband afterwards that Dr. Adams has the unique ability to make you feel like you are the only person in the room when he is talking to you.  Yet, I have hard person after person list Dr. Adams as the most influential person in their lives so it's obvious he makes everyone feel that way.  What a gift!

We've all heard the expression that we should "walk a mile in their shoes" but it's often easier said than done.  I owe a lot to Drake for teaching me how to strive for Principle 17 (which was, by the way, Dale Carnegie's favorite principle).  My passion for Drake was renewed this weekend.  Even more so, my passion for the lessons I learned while on campus were renewed.  Tolerance.  Open-mindedness.  Dialogue.  Perspective.  Sometimes I wonder if Dale Carnegie was a Drake Bulldog! 

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