Don’t Forget to Listen

When was the last time you listened, really listened? Some people go through their days and never listen at all. They talk. When someone is talking to them, rather than really listening, they’re only preparing to respond.

They forget the #1 rule of listening. To listen is to be silent.

Listen. Silent.

Interesting that the two words are anagrams of one another. We can’t do the first without the second.

Talking is easy. Listening is difficult. Yet, it is only by listening that we really learn — learn what our clients’ needs are — learn to be a better friend, better spouse, better parent, better human being. And, by listening, we learn to truly appreciate the world around us.

As a musician, I’ve learned that listening makes me better at my musical craft. When I listen, really listen to my fellow musicians, on or off the stage, that’s when I really learn, really improve.

And, by truly listening, I am able to understand more about my favorite composer, J.S. Bach. Each and every time I listen to a work by Bach, I learn something new.

Don’t forget to listen.

Learning to Unmeasure

UnMeasureMeasurement is really about the past. When we analyze, or measure anything, we’re using the past as the benchmark. How backwards.

Try as we might, we cannot truly measure success. We may think we can. We may attain a certain level of confidence, knowing we’ve reached a prescribed goal. But, truly successful people are smart enough to focus on the future, rather than the past. They use each new success as a launching pad for their next challenge and subsequent success.

Happiness is another unmeasurable. Happiness is intangible and fleeting. It seemingly comes and goes throughout our lives. The wisest among us learn to amortize happiness over the course of life, rather than gauging happiness on a day-to-day basis. Happiness is an art.

Art. Now, there’s an unmeasurable. Art looks, feels and sounds different every time we interact with it. Music and art critics attempt to use words to convey the value of any musical composition, piece of art or literary work, but most of those critics will admit that words are a poor measurement tool. Art is, after all, about feeling, both for the artist and the viewer, listener or consumer of that art. And, how can we measure feelings?

On the business side, is it really possible to measure brand loyalty? Or return on social investment (ROSI)? We can attempt to, but these are almost as elusive to measure as happiness and feelings. And, by the way, brand loyalty and ROSI each include a certain amount of happiness (or unhappiness) and other feelings at their core.

And, what about employee engagement? Do we really need fancy tools to measure that? Engaged employees do positively affect a company’s bottom line (now, that’s a measurement). But, perhaps, employee engagement should be regarded more as a philosophy, rather than something to be measured. When we begin to measure something, we’re then compelled to analyze it to the point that we lose the human element. And, employees want to be treated as humans, not numbers.

That which gets measured matters? Or that which matters is worth measuring?

I say neither. Thankfully, the most important things in life and in business cannot truly be measured. We should all practice the art of unmeasuring once in a while. By doing so, we’ll give ourselves the opportunity to become better listeners, better observers, better friends and better leaders.

What are your thoughts? What are some areas in your personal and/or business life where you can take an unmeasurement approach?

Write. Just Write.

writer'sblock

Ever had writer’s block?

I have. (And, probably will have again — many times.) A technique I experimented with recently is this:

Write. Just write.

I sat down in a coffee shop with my tablet and just started writing, seemingly without thinking. I typed random thoughts. I pushed myself to simply move my fingers, concentrating on the process.

At first, those thoughts seemed unrelated, but within the span of five minutes or less, I realized that those thoughts were related! It was as if my “data dump” of miscellaneous thoughts, once they appeared on my screen, suddenly began to make sense to me. I was able to quickly connect my “dots of randomness” into a cohesive story.

Now, this “story” is not necessarily one that I’m ready to share here on my public blog. It’s the technique of unblocking that I feel is worth sharing.

Try it. Let me know if it works for you.

Write. Just write.

by Rebecca Cochran