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Maryum Ali – Learning to Listen

Maryum Ali, the oldest daughter of the inimitable Muhammad Ali, has always been invested in helping others. And by “helping,” she often means “listening.” Ali has a gift for meeting people where they are and building community through authentic relationship. Her career has included an original album of progressive rap music and works as a comedian. Ali has a keen gift for insight and understanding human nature. Later, as a social worker, she worked in vulnerable neighborhoods in Los Angeles, including with youth and in gang prevention.

In this episode of In Times Like These, Ali helps us understand why humility, a love of learning, and a sense of care for others—no matter who they are—are key ingredients for bringing about positive social change.

Ways to listen to this episode:

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Why humility is a key ingredient for communication
  • How empathy and understanding build relationships with at-risk clients and communities
  • What to do when you’re working in a system that’s set up to failHow feeling “superior” sabotages all of your well-intended work
  1. “I’m as comfortable at the White House as I am in South Los Angeles.”

Maryum Ali’s life experience has given her the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. As a young girl, she learned the value of humility and really caring about people. Ali shares with us why someone’s wealth or power don’t really matter—everyone has a need, everyone experiences pain, and when you’re working with others, how you treat them is the most important piece of expertise.

I’m as comfortable at the White House as I am in South Los Angeles. Listen now: Click To Tweet

       2. “Start with listening, not your to-do list.”

Many of us feel that we are equipped to lead communities because we have expertise, academic degrees, or specialized training. Ali reminds us that when we come into a conversation with an agenda, we are already trying to control the other person. Dialogue requires the ability to listen without preconceived ideas or judgment.

Start with listening, not your to-do list.” Listen now: Click To Tweet

     3. “The key is having the humility to know that you don’t know it all.”

Maryum Ali is a life-long learner. Through every turn in her career, and in every new context, she’s sought to gain experiences that can help her help others. In this episode, she helps us see that our expertise and accomplishments are often a block to creating positive social change. If we think we’ve got it figured out, we’re less likely to connect and really try to understand others’ perspectives. Collaboration requires humility and real sharing.

The key is having the humility to know that you don’t know it all. Listen now: Click To Tweet

Mentioned on the episode:

How to connect with us:

Twitter: @maryum7

You can connect with me on Twitter here: @SVarnonHughes.

And you can always connect with us at CLU on our FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn accounts linked here.

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About the Podcast

In Times Like These explores the difficult spaces we humans navigate in culture and religion, in dialogue and doubt. We talk to voices from the field, in law, activism, civil rights, and from places of struggle and places of deep learning. In Times Like These, we unpack the most troubling issues of politics and faith we face, together.

In Times Like These is hosted by Dr. Stephanie Varnon-Hughes and is a CLU Live production by Claremont Lincoln University.

Claremont Lincoln University offers socially conscious master’s degree programs in organizational development, public administration, human resources managementhealthcare management, higher educational, and social change.

Stephanie Varnon-Hughes

Stephanie Varnon-Hughes

Stephanie Varnon-Hughes, Ph.D., is the Director of the Claremont Core at Claremont Lincoln University, and an award winning teacher and interfaith leader. She is the host of the religion & culture podcast In Times Like These and author of Interfaith Grit: How Uncertainty Will Save Us. Varnon-Hughes was a co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Journal of Inter-Religious Studies, a peer reviewed journal, and its sister publication, State of Formation, an online forum for emerging religious and ethical leaders. She holds a Ph.D. from Claremont Lincoln University, an M.A. and S.T.M. from Union Theological Seminary and her undergraduate degrees are in English and Education, from Webster University.

Claremont Core

Claremont Lincoln University

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Stephanie Varnon-Hughes

Stephanie Varnon-Hughes

Stephanie Varnon-Hughes, Ph.D., is the Director of the Claremont Core at Claremont Lincoln University, and an award winning teacher and interfaith leader. She is the host of the religion & culture podcast In Times Like These and author of Interfaith Grit: How Uncertainty Will Save Us. Varnon-Hughes was a co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Journal of Inter-Religious Studies, a peer reviewed journal, and its sister publication, State of Formation, an online forum for emerging religious and ethical leaders. She holds a Ph.D. from Claremont Lincoln University, an M.A. and S.T.M. from Union Theological Seminary and her undergraduate degrees are in English and Education, from Webster University.

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