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Listening Leverages the Power of Voice

Over the break I read a wonderful book entitled Originals: How Non-conformists Move the World by Adam Grant. Grant is a professor at the Wharton School of Business, and he presents a very comprehensive message about the importance of originality, and the ways in which anyone can “find opportunities for change, see a good idea, overcome anxiety and ambivalence and suggest things without being silenced.” As I hope you can imagine, at a school where we seek to foster courage amongst our girls, this message resonated with me considering our community, our coexistence and our teaching and learning.

Grant says, “If we could do things over, most of us would censor ourselves less and express our ideas more.” He highlights the vital importance of voice. He goes on to explain that individuals have several options in dissatisfying situations: one can exit a situation, use voice to actively try to change a situation, persist by gritting one’s teeth and bearing things, or finally neglect things by staying in the same situation but reducing one’s effort.

Grant indicates in his book through examples in the business world that in seeking originality, neglect is not a viable option, and persistence may be only a temporary stop-gap in the hopes of having one’s voice heard. This leaves two options. Sometimes, exiting may be the best choice; however, Grant highlights the importance of voice as a first step prior to an exit. Knowing this confirms my belief that we must ensure that we nurture voice in our SCS community such that we can foster originality.

Grant also wrote that “the goal [in seeking originality] is to push the envelope, not tear it.”

Voice is an important tool for every one of us- and particularly for our girls and young women as they grow and prepare for the future. Having said that, it is equally important that, as we use our voices, we ensure we are also capable of listening and hearing the voices of others. After all, if we wish to seek out originality, we must be open to the perspectives of others, seeking not just to hear but to understand.

I am excited about our new term and ongoing efforts to nurture voice and perspective in a mutually respectful community. I invite us all to speak up and out but also to hear and listen.

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