Community & Government, Wellness

Extinguishing Limitations & Empowering Others

Robin Arzón talks about the correlation between athletes and empathy, the ways community helps us feel more empowered and connected, and how empathy is the best way to heal from loss.

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Topics include: Meet People Where They Are


[MUSIC PLAYING] ROBIN ARZON: The connection for me between empathy and empowerment in a broad sense is the collective lift that a community or folks in relation to each other feel. I mean, everyone wants to feel bonded. And I think empathy is a key element of that bond. When you feel part of something, you are more likely to feel like you have agency to then make the next best choice in your own life. You know, it's interesting because I'm not sure before I became an athlete if I would have considered myself a particularly empathetic person. So when I started running marathons and ultra marathons, that really was a selfish pursuit. But then you find your people. You're there with tens of thousands of people experiencing a very individual pursuit, but it's also a very collective pursuit. So that kind of tension-- or synergy, rather-- is really beautiful to observe. I think athletes empathize and commiserate around usually all the stuff that makes training so hard. It's early mornings. It's late nights. It's sore muscles. It's really tough training sessions. The achievement-- or the sense of achievement-- in sport is actually oftentimes in the unseen moments, in the work that you're doing that's not public facing. And empathy is so key because oftentimes we feel like we're alone. And sharing stories with other athletes makes you feel like, oh, my gosh. I've been there. And I've-- and I've had these experiences with people in totally different sports, I mean, completely different types of athletes than I am. But there is something that is-- there's always a kernel of truth that connects us. I believe empowerment is contagious. I believe joy is contagious. You have to, I think, surround yourself with the value systems that you want to be inspired to then also embody, and creating a life where you're surrounding yourself with folks and embedding in experiences where more of that as possible. [MUSIC PLAYING] I actually think empathy is one of the best ways to heal from loss, like, to heal from losing a game or heal from the races and matches that didn't go well because when you show sincere empathy to others in pain or emotional stress, it produces a powerful calming effect. And this can make the difference in a person on the verge of giving up to instead push through the toughest moments. And we all need those moments of being reminded that we're human and that we still feel pain. And even though we can be goal-oriented and super hungry for very specific goals, I think I've actually learned the most from my toughest races and my toughest training runs. And I think it's because of the humility and the vulnerability that it allows. And I think that allows greater empathy on the other side. The most important connections I've seen in my own life between the race and those moments of tenacity really happen in rising above very real life moments of trauma and duress and stress and sadness. And two week...

About the Instructor

For the first time ever on MasterClass, a diverse range of our instructors come together to talk about the power of empathy and how it can transform the way you view the world. Join Pharrell Williams, Robin Arzón, Roxane Gay, Walter Mosley, Robert Reffkin, Gloria Steinem, and Cornel West as they share their experiences with empathy and its importance in their lives and careers. Learn how to exercise, cultivate, and promote empathy to connect with others on a deeper, more human level.

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Pharrell Williams, Robin Arzón, Roxane Gay, Walter Mosley, Robert Reffkin, Gloria Steinem, and Cornel West

Pharrell Williams, Robin Arzón, Roxane Gay, Walter Mosley, Robert Reffkin, Gloria Steinem, and Cornel West teach about leading life with empathy.

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