“The word ‘listen’ has the same letters as the word ‘silent.’”
—Alfred Brendel, Austrian pianist, poet and author
Image from Unsplash by Jodie P.
How high would you rate yourself in the category of listening?
How close do you come to the two-to-one ratio implied by the fact that you have two ears and only one mouth?
What makes this skill so very difficult?
Perhaps it has to do with the fact that we almost always listening to our own inner thoughts and opinions instead of granting others the respect and honor of our silence and full attention.
With whom in your personal or professional communities would it make the biggest difference if you silenced your inner voice and listened far more deeply?
“He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skills. Our antagonist is our helper.”
Edmund Burke, 18th Century Irish Statesman
Image from Flickr by Christopher Paquette
My dad was a physical education teacher and coach for multiple sports, one of which was wrestling. Young men of equal weight would compete in one of the most challenging and physically exhausting sports I’ve ever experienced.
In a matter of minutes, while engaged with your adversary, you would likely find yourself gasping for air and having already worked up quite a sweat.
Not surprisingly, wrestlers are some of the most fit athletes because of the struggles they face in competing at a high level.
Who are the antagonists/adversaries that strengthen your nerve and build your personal or professional skills? How can you appreciate and perhaps seek even greater challenges to further your personal excellence journey?
“We never do anything well till we cease to think about the manner of doing it.”
—William Hazlitt, 19th Century British Social Commentator
How many activities in the following list have you engaged in over the past year?
- Giving a speech or major presentation
- Writing a book or significant article for publication
- Interviewing for a new job or promotion
- Playing golf, poker, or a game of chess
- Building a piece of furniture or other handy-person activity
If at least one of these activities occurred this past year, how well did you do? How competent, skilled, or masterful were you? How much effort, struggle, or ease and flow did you experience?
Hazlitt’s quote points to the fact that when we are so focused on doing things correctly we often diminish our own ability to do things well because of our preoccupation with our potential to make mistakes.
How and on what activity might a more playful approach, without much thought about doing things perfectly, help you enjoy the process and perhaps do far better than you might have imagined?
“Today will be what you make of it.”
I recently learned about a new skill called “Mindsight,” based on the book of the same name by Doctor Daniel Siegel.
Siegel suggests this skill is a kind of focused attention. Mindsight allows us to see the internal workings of our own mind, including our mental processes, without being swept away by them through the autopilots of ignorance and habitual responses.
How often do you notice each day blending into the next? To what degree do you experience a bit of insanity and upset by not seeing better results, and feeling less engaged and alive?
How would a greater awareness of your inner thinking and outer efforts help you make more of each day?
“Though you can love what you do not master, you cannot master what you do not love.”
—Mokokoma Mokhonoana, South African Philosopher and Social Critic
Photo from makesafetyfun.com
Generally, the people who experience the greatest success and fulfillment in their professional lives demonstrated three key factors:
- They are enthusiastic and passionate about their work. Many would engage in whatever it is they do even if the monetary rewards were more modest.
- Because they love what they do, they commit massive amounts of time to the practice, and eventual mastery, of the skills involved.
- The final piece that accompanies this love and mastery is often the value ascribed to it by the meritocracy in which we live, and the rewards we often receive. How much is it worth in dollars and cents?
How and in what ways can doing more of what you love lead you toward a life of greater mastery and success? Consider reading one or more of these books, which speak in one form or another, to the spirit of today’s quote:
What to Do When it’s Your Turn by Seth Godin
Linchpin by Seth Godin
Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben
“Hide not your talents, they for use were made / what’s a sundial in the shade?”
—attributed to Benjamin Franklin
Photo from Flickr by James Achel
Yesterday’s quote about talent caused me to select today’s quote, attributed to Benjamin Franklin.
One of the values of a coaching relationship is helping the individual more fully discover and express the talents within. In many cases, these talents have been hidden, or kept in the shade.
Who are the people in your professional and personal lives most capable of shining a bright light on your visible and hidden talents? How can you—and how will you—play this important role for others?
“One of my greatest talents is recognizing talent in others and giving them the forum to shine.”
-Tory Burch, American fashion designer
For my birthday this year, my son-in-law Chris gave me a wonderful book titled The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle. Chris knows me pretty well and has a knack for finding the perfect gift. It seems only fitting, since we have given him our wonderful daughter Rachel!
Recognizing and developing talent is and will continue to be a critical factor in the business world. This is particularly so as the Baby Boom generation begins to exit from the workforce.
Coyle drew on cutting edge science and first-hand research gathered on his travels to “talent hotbeds.” He identified three key elements that allow us to more fully develop our gifts, and optimize our performance in just about any area of life. They are:
Deep Practice combines experiential efforts of trial, error, and rapid correction, to increase skill development at rates up to ten times faster than conventional methods.
Ignition is that special factor that fully captures the passions and commitments, and is the catalyst for an individual to start and stay with the efforts to master a particular skill.
Master Coaching reveals some of the secrets and tools used by the world’s most effective teachers, trainers, and coaches to fuel and bring out the best in their students.
Purchase, read, or better yet – study – The Talent Code. Recognize and develop your talents, and those of others, so that we can all shine more brightly.
– John Ruskin, artist and art critic
We have all heard the quote, “When you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” A by-product of this mixture of love and work is mastery, due to the amount of practice we experience over time.
Think about famous artists, top athletes, and great entertainers as examples of this synergistic combination.
What are your greatest skills, where you lose yourself in love?
It would be wonderful if these included your vocation. They may be hobbies or similar avocations – and hopefully, they can include building extraordinary relationships, in all areas of life.
What masterpieces have you built to this point and what future works of art are on the way?
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