Everyday Ethics: Stop, Look, Listen

Teachers of ancient wisdom were well aware that learning the best way to live can be summarized in simple rules: stop, see and listen.

Stop being busy long enough to look back on your life. Look at what’s around you. And listen to your own heart.

The rule is not only to stop, see, hear and remember, but to practice every day until you reach a way of life.

When I went outside yesterday, I heard a goose barking overhead and looked up at a V-shaped goose heading south.

A few years ago, when I was commanding the organization, I began to observe the flock overhead and wonder why they flew in such a formation. I barely noticed until I read and thought more about the geese providing me with a lot of guidance on leadership.

Goose can fly long distances by saving energy and can reduce wind resistance, so it can fly in a V shape. One bird flies in front and falls back only when tired, replacing another bird. And when they cry, they are sending a message of support to the leader.

I compared this leadership pattern with the ones that dominate today. Leaders who only want to come forward and be praised, leaders who are willing to criticize and care for only what they can offer, but do not support the team.

I learned about another model called Servant Leadership. This was explained by Robert Greenleaf, a corporate executive who quit education and writing after working at AT & T for over 30 years.

Greenleaf’s essay “Servant as a Leader” was published in 1970. In it, he argued that the best leaders were first servants, seeking to serve them rather than teaching or bullying others what to do. The best leaders embody listening and persuasive skills. They guided by who they were, as much as they told others to do.

The simple act of stopping for enough time to see and hear the goose overhead provided me with more insight than I had gained from most of the management training courses I took.

I also learned that the same lesson applies to my life. I had to stop from time to time, think about who I was and where I was, and stock things up. It was the first lesson of philosophy: Know thyself.

I have also come to understand that sometimes all you need to do is be aware of yourself and your surroundings. It’s another early philosophical lesson: wake up!

And finally, I learned to listen to myself. It is the inner voice that tends to drown in the turmoil and turmoil of life.

Please stop, see and listen. It is the beginning of learning how to live deeply.

There are many examples of servant leaders, but General Colin Powell, who practiced serving others even in a very well-known position, died this week. He served as a leader in both military and diplomatic affairs, but is remembered that he was a great person who not only taught from others, but also learned from others.

John C. Morgan is a teacher and writer who oversaw nonprofits.He can be contacted at

Everyday Ethics: Stop, Look, Listen

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