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.

Trust Yourself

TrailOne of my many learnings during these long, stay-at-home days is how to trust. A few years ago, I penned another post about trust. I titled that one, “The Nature of Trust.” It was focused on building and maintaining trust with others.

What I’m discovering lately is the importance of trusting myself. During these times of aloneness, self-trust is paramount.

For instance, I’ve learned to trust my financial decisions, both personal and business-related. It’s easy to take for granted that little “emergency fund” I set up years ago, but I trust it will allow me to keep a positive attitude (and cash flow) during these times.

I’ve learned to trust my instincts as I’m utilizing more and more online tools. Rather than asking a technical colleague for help on how to do “x, y or z” online, I’m trusting myself to learn on my own. All this free time helps me build trust in myself.

And, I’ve been getting outside more than ever lately, hiking trails and paths I haven’t hiked in years (if ever). When I’m out there, all alone, enjoying the weather, the scenery and the terrain, I sometimes let self-doubt creep in: Did I take a wrong turn? Will I find my way back to the trailhead? What if I get lost? In actuality, however, I’ve learned to trust my sense of direction and trust that I’ll always be able to find my way home.

The over-arching issue that I’ve grappled with is whether I can trust myself to get through all the uncertainties, unknowns and overall unease in this world we live in today. Can I weather this storm?

The answer is “yes.” We should all remind ourselves not to overlook the self-trust that we have cultivated over the years. Or, as Dr. Benjamin Spock (remember him?) was known to have uttered,

“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”  

Stay Productive.

My business friends are amazing. I’m observing numerous ways in which they are staying productive during these unsettling and uncertain times.

One longtime friend and very successful small business owner, has decided to update her website on her own. Although her web team usually takes care of updates for her, she is determined to use some of this downtime to learn how to make quick updates herself. She is fully capable of learning how to use her content management system and, when she has done so, I can only imagine how good she will feel. An added benefit is that she will, most likely, keep her site more up-to-date than ever before. In today’s ever-changing business climate, the ability to accurately portray her products and services will help her remain fresh in her marketplace.

Another colleague has started a new company — yes, in these uncertain times. He is finding that he is now able to focus a bit more easily on his new venture, since his existing business is “a bit quiet at the moment.” Sometimes, our dreams are never realized because we’re too busy focusing on our core activity. I suspicion this new entity will succeed with flying colors!

One of my neighbors, who is an extremely savvy business owner, is finally taking the time to get started on social media. She knows she should have done this long ago, but her business was thriving anyway. I suspect she’ll thrive even more soon.

Yet another business friend had always been curious to try email marketing for her company. She has recently taught herself how to design and launch an email campaign using one of the many readily available free tools. After her first campaign, she immediately gained a new client and will, most likely, make email marketing an integral part of her overall marketing strategy.

What about you?

What are you doing to stay productive in these unprecedented times?

Please share your experiences.