A Common Sense, Listen and Learn as Leaders

By Stephen Garber

“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary …”

— opening line of the U.S. Declaration of Independence

It has become painfully necessary for us to remind ourselves how to listen and learn, together, again.

Businesses fail or succeed based on their ability to listen and learn—from the market, the customers, our peers, the teams who do the work. When we do listen and learn at all levels, we can take meaningful action to make our businesses successful.

It’s true in our families. Listen and learn.

It’s true in our communities. Listen and learn.

And it’s true in our country. Listen and learn.

A huge part of leadership is listening well.

In South Florida, our community is leading—indeed, creating—a forum for meaningful discourse about an issue that affects us all. We all must listen to and learn from each other.

More than 1 million people came together in the recent “March for Our Lives” events across the country to share their strong beliefs. We walked. We talked. From generation to generation, across incomes, across communities, across ethnicities and across religions, there was common sense. A common sense of “enough is enough,” a common sense that we must be masters of our own lives.

The children are leading the way. We must pay attention.

To me, the rally was not really political. It was human. It was not about taking guns away or ending the Second Amendment. It was to spur discourse about a common sense of safety, freedom from fear, and the right to have the ability to live in contentment. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Too often, we find ourselves taking a position, defending the position and not listening. But for our businesses and our families—and for our region, state and country—to be truly great, we must listen – and develop a common sense of what makes common sense.

We license marriages, drivers and exporters. We need to be trained to be licensed to drive, be professionals, to build a building and do so many other things. In Florida, and most other states, we need to be 21 to drink and 25 to rent a car. Yet at the time of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the legal age in Florida to buy a rifle was 18—with minimal checks, or none if buying one at a gun show. (The law was changed on March 9, raising the legal age to 21 for all firearms.)

The Stoneman Douglas teenagers are a great look in the mirror. Are we leading with common sense? Are we really listening and learning?

They are so eloquent in telling us their efforts are not about a march, or thoughts and prayers. This is about taking action—and making some common-sense changes to the common sense that we all want: safety and freedom from fear for all our children, no matter their age.

If not now, when? ♦

Stephen Garber is director of Third Level Ltd. Contact him at 561.752.5505 or sgarber@thirdlevel.com.

Stephen Garber
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