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Proximity is Power

June 10, 2024

There are many so-called “experts” who have very little experience in their area of expertise.

Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower once criticized the politicians influencing agriculture by saying, “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.”

Ouch. But he’s absolutely right; the more distance between you and the problem you’re trying to solve, the more disconnected and ineffective your efforts become.

Proximity is power, because the closer we move to a need or challenge, the higher our level of empathy and understanding. And the greater our ability to develop solutions that actually work.

It’s why bureaucracy creates obstacles to solving problems – there are far too many layers, creating far too much insulation from the real issue.

At ADDO, we work alongside large organizations, inevitably bureaucratic, to help them connect to their frontline. We often find executives with good intentions who have trouble communicating with the people who directly interact with customers. The best leaders make sure to make proximity a priority, moving closer to the front lines rather than locking themselves in ivory towers and echo chambers.

But this doesn’t just apply to businesses.

How could your church be more effective if it had more interactions with those in your community?

How could you be a better parent if you spent time doing things with your kids that they enjoy?

Consider where you need to move closer. Put it on your calendar. Make the intentional effort to listen, observe, and interact.

Proximity provides perspective. Closeness cultivates empathy.

We won’t move issues an inch until we move ourselves – closer to the front lines, closer to the problems that require solving. That’s where change begins.


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