Gladstone, Disraeli, and William James

There’s an old story of a young lady who was taken to dinner one evening by William Gladstone and then the following evening by Benjamin Disraeli, both eminent British statesmen in the late nineteenth century.

“When I left the dining room after sitting next to Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England,” she said. “But after sitting next to Mr. Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest woman in England.”

Disraeli obviously had a knack for making the other person the center of his universe, if only for the evening. If you practice attentiveness to others, you’ll find it does wonders. They will enjoy it, and so will you. You will accomplish much more.

Make a conscious effort to focus on others—their opinions, experiences, and stories—before you share your own. Then train yourself to focus on what unites you, rather than on what separates you.

William James, the father of psychology said, “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.” If you focus on others in terms of uniting, which means focusing with positive perceptions, your canvasses will provide satisfaction for both the artist and the viewer—you and the other person.

1 Comment
  1. Marvin,

    This is a priceless piece of wisdom! I’m always amazed how the best practices are so very simple. Thanks for sharing! I will pass this along to my pre-service teachers.