Have you ever considered the Chinese proverb, “live and let live”? Marc Elliot, author of What Makes you Tic, forced me to reconsider my understanding of this ancient maxim. I used to believe that this statement meant that people should simply mind their own business, essentially, “you do your thing and I’ll do mine.” However, after hearing Marc’s powerful presentation at PAISTA (Pittsburgh Association of Independent Schools) last year, I realized that this statement is actually a guide for daily leadership. It exhorts us to live our lives with sound judgment, which is the ability to critically analyze facts and information in order to form a sensible conclusion or opinion. It urges us to not be judgmental or display an excessively critical point of view, particularly when asserting the rightness or wrongness of things. Sound judgment is so important because our beliefs dictate our actions and our actions impact not only ourselves but those around us.
Jane Elliott, internationally known teacher, lecturer, diversity trainer, and recipient of the National Mental Health Association Award for Excellence in Education, once said, “Oh Great Spirit, keep me from ever judging a man until I have walked a mile in his moccasins.” We can never truly walk a mile in another’s shoes. We will never understand the experiences of another because we can only ever be ourselves. However, we can determine what is right and wrong for ourselves; we can stop assuming that we know what is right or wrong for others; and we can recognize that even with the best of intentions, we should never be too certain of what we think we know. In this way, we can begin assuming the best intentions from others and begin putting forth our best efforts to help ourselves and our community.
Marc Elliot’s talk, What Makes You Tic?, gave me the opportunity to really think about the ways I make assumptions and how important it is to make sound judgments. I know that for me, this paradigm shift has made me a more positive person, a more caring person, and a better leader. Come see Marc Elliot on September 20 as part of the Sewickley Series and see how his message might impact you.
This post is by Jeremiah Jackson, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Sewickley Academy.