Empathy Changes Everything

Empathy.  Love that word.  And it’s important for innovators. If innovation is about discovering the future, empathy is a key factor in doing so. Thinking about a story from Seth Godin's great book, “Leap First” — "A few years ago I was in the airport waiting in line to talk to the gate agent. The woman in front of me was talking to the agent saying, “I’d like to be in first class please.” And the agent says, “Unfortunately, ma'am, it’s not that big of a plane. There is no first class.” The woman absolutely freaks out. “I’ve got claustrophobia and agoraphobia and I absolutely need to fly first class! I’m never going to be able to get on this plane!” and she’s having a tantrum.

What usually happens in a circumstance like this is, the agent rolls his eyes and says, “Forget you!” Instead, this agent calmly turns back to the woman and says, “Oh, no, no, no. I’m so sorry. What I meant to say was, the entire flight is first class. You’ll be fine.” Problem solved. The woman was completely happy. Notice, nothing about the plane changed. What changed was the story of the plane. What changed was the story the woman was telling herself.”

Empathy changes everything. Can you see the world from someone else’s eyes? Can you help your team do so? You must! In your career, in business, in life!

Related: Thoughts Can Be Our Vehicles to a Destination That Moves Us