“There but for the grace of God go I” ~ Ancient Proverb ~
Empathy. A single word that holds a wealth of meaning.
In this fast-paced, digital world, the latest news is always at our fingertips. We can easily become overwhelmed by stories of traumatic events that are happening around us. As a result, we often choose to switch off and become inured to the tragedies that other people are facing.
However, we need to remind ourselves not to become indifferent to other people’s sufferings. Compassion and empathy are essential if we hope to contribute towards making our world a better place.
Jane Allen, Coach, Consultant, Co-founder and Chair of the Board of Amara Collaboration, shares with us how her former career as a social worker enhanced her natural ability to empathize with people who struggle with life’s challenges.
Jane was the youngest of four children and grew up in a farming community in the UK. As farmers, her parents encountered many challenges and obstacles, but they considered themselves fortunate, a trait they passed on to Jane. Although she is an introvert by nature, Jane had a natural curiosity about life and people. Over the years, she developed an ability to listen to and empathize with people as she tried to make sense of the world around her, with its many contradictions and tensions.
These skills stood Jane in good stead when she began her career as a social worker. By learning to connect even more deeply with herself and her intuition, Jane honed her skills and fostered her innate ability to listen to other people in an authentic and non-judgemental way. She instinctively knew that listening was more important than talking, and she was empathetic to the pain of people who, through no fault of their own, were dealing with extraordinarily difficult lives.
From her early career as a social worker, Jane trained and evolved into a management and leadership role. For her, the transition from social work to management is a natural one because she firmly believes that effective leadership requires the same compassion, listening skills and heart commitment as social work.
Jane continues to live by her family’s philosophy that “there but for the grace of God go I”. She encourages us to pay attention as we continue to evolve because otherwise we can get stuck and become indifferent to what is going on in the world around us.
The world needs more compassion and empathy. Life is never smooth and people can suffer all kinds of misfortune. However, each and every one of us can make a positive difference in someone’s life. It’s our choice. Let’s make the right one.
Jane Allen is an experienced consultant and leadership coach working in public and private sectors. She provides advice and support for consultants working in the field of transformational organization and leadership development, with particular expertise and enthusiasm for the Global Leadership Profile, the practices of action inquiry and authentic leadership.
Jane has extensive experience running action-learning sets and providing coaching and mentoring for strategic leaders. She is a co-founder and Chair of Amara Collaboration and co-author of Street Smart Awareness and Inquiry-in-Action.
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