“In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts, and be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.”

Fred Rogers

Imagine we’re on a roller coaster. We’ve all been there, heart pounding, palms sweaty, adrenaline coursing through our veins. Life, just like that roller coaster, has a knack for throwing us into these twisty, turny moments of stress. It’s part of the ride. And in those moments, the knee-jerk reaction is to scramble for answers, like we’re trying to fix a glitch in the roller coaster’s machinery while it’s still in motion. It feels like if we can just find the right piece, or the right word, we can smooth out the ride. But sometimes, the solution isn’t in the tools or the words, it’s in the ears and the heart.

Imagine if, instead of trying to fix the roller coaster mid-loop, we chose to sit back, strap in and listen to the rhythm of the ride. We might hear the scared gasps, the joyous screams, the deep breaths of anticipation. Similarly, in life, in times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to simply listen. To listen not just with our ears, but with our hearts, too. It’s about absorbing the fear, the joy, the anticipation, and responding not with instructions, but with empathy.

But here’s the kicker—don’t let the fear of not having answers stop you from asking questions. You see, the beauty of this roller coaster ride is that there’s no rule book, no blueprint. It’s all uncharted territory. So, it’s okay not to have answers. In fact, it’s more than okay, it’s essential. Because your questions, they’re markers on the road map of this wild journey. They’re the bold declarations of curiosity that spark dialogues, foster understanding, and draw us closer. So let’s embrace the stress, listen with our ears and our hearts, and remember: our questions are just as important as our answers.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand and Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2023 Stephen Boudreau.