Álex Rovira

Author and lecturer

"In order to communicate better with our children, we must learn to listen to them"

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We are not aware, because no one has ever told us, of how much our gaze affects the quality of our connection with others. Not only our connection, but our possibilities for fulfillment, not just for each human being, but for every life form. In psychology, this is referred to as «the appreciative gaze».

We are unaware of the importance of interweaving two major universes, those of education and training. There are people who have had access to very good training, but who are rude, because they do not have heart. And there are people who have not been able to access good training, but who are extraordinarily well-educated. I believe that, at school, we must shape and supplement the education that is offered in the home. I also believe that, in the home, we must create the circumstances for education to flourish and complement the training that is offered at school. And in both contexts, both teachers and parents must have this appreciative gaze that gives wings. Our gaze — and when I say gaze, we should say our existential posture, our way of being in the world — makes manifest our belief system, what I believe about myself, what I believe about you, what I believe about life. Imagine we were capable of an unbiased appreciative gaze, that we were able to focus on the kindnesses and virtues, without losing critical thought, of course. If we could free ourselves from false beliefs about ourselves, from prejudices against others, and from projections, which are what others think that I think about them, we would be much closer to something crucial, which is reality. And, in the end, so that a… I believe that we are born women and men, but we become human. Humanization is a conquest, and in that humanization, there are three principles that must be interwoven: the principle of pleasure, the principle of responsibility, and principle of reality. When we are able to interweave these three principles, responsibility, commitment, pleasure, joy, and reality, we realize what humanization is, and we have so much more capacity for individual and collective transformation. Moreover, if to this concept we add an appreciative gaze, we strengthen those three principles and are able to achieve much more, individually and collectively.

To love is to inspire others to help a loved one build new, objective realities: to be able to finish a project, to pass an exam, to do good research work, to give themselves permission to do something that they are afraid of. But also, to inspire them to find new meanings in life. Those who love want for their loved ones to build an internal narrative that will sustain them, especially in moments of adversity, and stories can help with that. Stories inspire us, they anchor us with memories and give us an example of how characters were able to overcome their difficulties. Stories create mental images, they create archetypes of great strength. A narration about your own life or the life of a loved one, or about a myth or a stranger can, at a given moment, work as an incentive or as leverage to help you find a solution in your inner strength, in your determination to persevere, your will to serve, and stories, for that reason, are very important.

"In school and at home, we should have an appreciative gaze that gives our children wings"

There can be no learning without enthusiasm. There is a lot of talk about learning about the culture of effort, but I think that this is a serious mistake because effort in itself, just effort, is not an intrinsic value, it is an instrumental value. A combination of enthusiasm, passion, effort, joy, and recognition are key to learning.

What do high-performance teams that work on a sporting level, or even on the level of human organizations or companies all have? They have three things: first, they respect themselves; without respect, they have nothing. It is the same with learning; it is necessary to respect the person who is learning. Second, admiration. Admiration is crucial, because it kick-starts the mechanism of learning by imitation. Personally, when I admire someone, I want to imitate them, subconsciously incorporating their language, their gestures… And the third crucial variable is the need for a deep affection. I believe that we are not aware of the capacity we have to transform those around us, and if we combine all this, we can make our loved ones flourish. When we discuss love, we often edge into the topic of desire, the topic of lust, the topic of Eros. We rarely talk about philia and ágape, we rarely discuss love as the drive for trust, about connection, quality, the power of commitment, the power to transform, the power of dialogue, the power that — really, call it power — most definitely is the emotion that unites us. I believe that, really, there cannot be radical learning without radical love.

Forgetting or trying to erase a memory can lead to both operational malfunctions and significant psychological malfunctions. Memory is necessary, and memory is necessary for gratitude, memory is necessary in order to prevent the wrongs of the past from repeating themselves, that is why historic memory is so crucial. That is why it is crucial to remember those who have helped us, and who have blessed us; that is why it is important to memorize the multiplication tables. Memory is crucial. Cognitive memory, emotional memory, and I would even dare say spiritual memory, in terms of gratitude and humility, are critical. And therefore, you must work on your memory. Because, moreover, it is a pleasure to be able to recall, in the moment, that which at one time has touched you, or that which you believe could be helpful for a friend, or the name of that book that you want to recommend now, or that one movie, or what it said in that excerpt you read, or that poem that perhaps you want to share with the person you love. I believe we should keep working on our memory as yet another component of this whole process of humanization. Without memory, we are nothing.

Writer and lecturer Álex Rovira is the author of the best-seller, ‘The Inner Compass' (over half a million copies sold worldwide) and co-author of ‘Good Luck’ (4 million books sold). Rovira believes deeply in the transformative power of words and the way we look at those around us.