Ellsberg’s Advice to Kissinger: Does knowledge impact how we perceive others?

<a href="http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/02/daniel-ellsberg-limitations-knowledge

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“>Ellsberg’s Advice to Kissinger: Does knowledge impact how we perceive others?

This article is fascinating to me on several levels:

1. Watergate

I’ve always been fascinated by this incident and time period in American history. I’ve written papers on it in high school (and, I think, in college). This advice from Daniel Ellsberg to Henry Kissinger is quite interesting. It gives me a very different sense of Daniel Ellsberg than I’ve had in the past. I appreciate the fresh perspective.

2. Leadership

Over the years, I have become increasingly intrigued by what it takes to be a good leader. Not every leader is willing to share their thoughts on how to do it well. To me, Ellsberg’s advice is a rare glimpse into a private conversation between two men whose names have become part of U.S. history.

3. Thoughtful, Reflective Observation

It strikes me that Ellsberg’s advice indicates a considerable amount of self-reflection and self-awareness on his part. To identify these sorts of subtle changes in observation and perspective about daily interactions is remarkable. We should each strive toward such insight. Though I am not convinced that it always happens, I remain hopeful that our leaders (political, clerical, social) are seeking this sort of clarity and insight about the work they do and their interactions with others.

4. Knowledge Impacts Perception

I think what strikes me most about Ellsberg’s advice is that he is identifying subtle changes that he believes occur in response to the amount of knowledge one has. To me, the most poignant statement from Ellsberg is, “And that mental exercise is so torturous that after a while you give it up and just stop listening. I’ve seen this with my superiors, with my colleagues … and with myself.” I can see how this would happen so easily. And yet, woe to the leader to stops listening.

May we each, in our small and large spheres of influence, cultivate listening skills based upon a sincere compassion and a desire to truly understand.

[Thanks to @ayjay for the Kevin Drum blog link.]

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