As I type this, it’s been two days since the deadliest shooting in U.S. history. The tragedy comes in the wake of several turbulent weeks in our country – the Charlottesville riots; devastating and deadly hurricanes; escalating tensions with North Korea; the NFL and standing vs. kneeling, etc. Polarizing viewpoints seem to be at a frenzy and getting stronger.

So what can high aspiring leaders do to be a positive force in the midst of all of this?

One phrase has been repeating in my head for months: seek to understand. It’s a powerful personal and leadership principle, although not always an easy one. Seeking to understand means putting one’s perceptions, viewpoints and opinions on hold and truly listening to where someone else is coming from, their story; it means pressing pause when feeling defensive and fighting the urge to lash out or judge. Tough stuff sometimes, I know.  But it’s so incredibly transformative and essential to becoming better leaders, family members, friends and community participants.

Last month, we kicked off the 28th Cornerstone class with nearly 50 talented achievers with a commitment to making a positive impact. Even though they have that commonality, they are all also very different with varied backgrounds, experiences and opinions. Seeking to understand is how they, as a class, will navigate the next nine months of leadership growth that culminates in a collective Day of Service project.

Every day, I actively seek out new perspectives and information from a variety of sources. I like to hear people’s stories, especially those whose life path and belief systems are different than mine. Respectful conversation on differing viewpoints can be a powerful catalyst for meaningful progress.

So dear LO readers, where can you “seek to understand” better today?