Letter from Aeneas Williams: Listening key to understanding

A letter from Hall of Fame cornerback Aeneas Williams:

Greetings Family,

I find it interesting that we have two ears and only one mouth. It seems to be implied by our Creator that we should listen twice as much as we speak. One would think that it is easy to listen, but it is not always as easy as we think. It’s like eight people sitting around a table and all viewing a large diamond. Each person will have a different perspective depending on their position at the table. Courage is when one pushes past one’s fears and personal thoughts and listens with empathic ears.

Because each person’s view is legitimate and real to them, it takes courage to listen and to better understand another person’s viewpoint without judging, because one’s own view is just as legitimate and real as another’s. Our church — The Spirt Church — has been serving in the Ferguson, MO, community since 2013. It was in this community where the tragic incident between officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown took place. One of the things that has helped the community to move forward has been courageous listening. We created an environment that has brought together law enforcement and community to have courageous conversations through courageous listening. As a result we have been able to insert a human element to the conversations, because the more each person shared their truth, the more emotions and tears flowed in the room. We were also able to understand that, when we as leaders have a vision for a community, we need to have representation from all aspects of the community at the table to share in the vision. The book, The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People says, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." Let’s take the lead. We may be surprised how much we are able to create environments throughout the country, and maybe even throughout the world, by encouraging courageous listening!

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