Every time we work with a high-performing team and we help them define the skills they want in their High Performance Mindset, two skills that typically show up are self-awareness and listening. To us at Tignum, these two skills are intricately linked because turning your listening skills inward is critical to developing your self-awareness.
Many years ago I attended a mindfulness class in Big Sur where one of our exercises was to sit outside in total stillness and listen to nature for an hour. At first I thought this would not only be simple, but to be honest, I thought it would be a waste of time. To my surprise, this exercise was extremely difficult and less about what I would hear in nature but more about what I would hear in my own mind. Over the years, I have often thought about this exercise and how difficult it is to listen to ourselves in our busy, constantly distracted, and outward-looking day-to-day grind.
When I look at our most successful executives, one of the commonalities is their passion for improving their self-awareness by expanding their listening skills. Here are some of the questions they ask to do this:
_What do others say about me (my commitment, my authenticity, my compassion, my openness to feedback, my pursuit of excellence)?
_What are my thoughts telling me? (Are they optimistic or pessimistic? Are they full of anger or frustration? Are they solution-oriented or full of drama?)
_What are my stories saying about me? (Are they about how busy I am or are they about my impact? Are they about personal growth or status quo? Are they about hanging on to the past or about creating a great future?)
_What are my gut and heart telling me? (What drives me? What do I care about? What makes me uncomfortable? What makes me sad? What makes me happy? What fulfills me? What scares me?
In our busy lives, making the time to listen to ourselves is not always easy but I've grown to really appreciate the many benefits it provides. Listening is a performance skill and as with all skills, the more you practice the more efficient and effective you get at it. At the same time, as you learn to pay attention to what you hear, the more you will expand your impact and potential.
As always, I would love to hear what you think.
By Scott Peltin
Founder/Chief Performance Officer