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Do You Really Listen?

“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” – Robert McCloskey

Isn’t it the most wonderful thing in the world to feel heard?  Equally, I find, is the opportunity to be there to just listen to someone who needs to talk.  At a networking event I heard John Gray, author of Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, talk about listening.  He said, addressing the guys in the room, if you want to make your partner happy, when she comes to you with a problem ask her “Do you want me to just listen, or do you want me to help you figure out a solution.”  Words I never forgot and have paid off very well!

I was always that guy that people could come to with problems.  Something about me that I make people feel very comfortable and safe to talk to.  I’m blessed, I believe with the gift of listening.  Since I’ve realized it’s importance, I’ve tried, and struggled to improve my skills, often fighting the urge to speak when I know my clients and often friends just need to be heard.  Do you really listen when someone comes to you and needs to talk?  The following are the three levels of listening.  Which do you do most?

3 Levels of Listening

  • Level 1: You’re not really listening.  Have you ever been out on a date and you’re listening to a story and just tune out?  You maintain eye contact, and nod and gesture like you’re listening but you don’t know what there talking about!  You might be preoccupied with a question you want to ask.  You might be wondering what you’re missing by being out.  Whatever you’re thinking about your are not listening.  Even if you are thinking of a response!  Level 1 listening is basically pretending like you’re listening.  Remember 9th grade Economics?  No? Exactly my point.
  • Level 2: You’re Listening to most of what is being said but tune out to key details.
  • Level 3:You hear everything that is being said verbally and nonverbally.  Level 3 listening is when you are open to verbal and non verbal communication.  You are sensitive to what is being said and what is not being said.  You process information and allow for moments of silence as you think of a response.

Remember that being a GREAT listener is a skill that can be developed.  It has the power to make people believe you’re much wiser and knowledgeable than you really are (I’ll speak for myself).  I think it’s key to remember how wonderful it is to have had the experience of being heard.  Think about how you listen and practice elevating your attention.  How wonderful it will be when people turn to you because they trust you will offer a safe place to be heard.

 

 

Commitment

“Commitment is not a word, it is an act.” Jean Paul Sartre

I’ve been thinking a lot about what is the first step to living a GREAT life.  Is there something you really want, and you know how to get it but just don’t take action?  I’ve said it before, the self help guru will tell me WHY I DO WHAT I DO, but nobody really explained WHY I DON’T DO WHAT I REALLY WANT TO DO.  This question drives my studies, my theoretical framework, and my daily practice.  While I have a very long and complex model that explains this in detail, the first step I want to consider is the idea of commitment.

First, what is commitment?  Not just a definition, but what does commitment look like.  Commitment is not in thoughts or beliefs but a practice of a pattern of behaviors that direct my life.  What I am committed to, physically manifests itself into my life.  If I get stuck or feel stuck in an area, I ask myself am I committed to my goal or do I want something without having to take action toward it.  For example, I really want to be married with kids.  I think I’m committed to this desire. But my actions don’t support my claim.  I’d like a wife and kids, but if it happens, cool.  This is hardly commitment!

So what am I committed to?

I’m working toward building a set of disciplined behaviors that support my commitment to living a GREAT life one day at a time.  I’m committed to Gratitude, Recognizing and rejecting negativity, Excitement, Action, and Thanks.  I’m committed to living a life directed by love and not fear.  I’m committed to being happy.  I’m committed to telling a new story about myself that I never thougth was possible.   I’m committed to putting myself out into the world and being seen.  But does my behavior support my commitment?

Sadly, my behavior supports commitment to fear, isolation, loneliness, and commitment to an idea that I’m not enough.  But the GREAT life is not perfect.  The GREAT life is not a destination or a goal to achieve.  The GREAT life is a practice.  We practice the behaviors that make clear to all around us what we are committed to.  I’m not perfect in my commitment to the GREAT life.  I read a quote online (author, was unidentified) that read:

“Commitment is staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has past.”

When I started this blog I was excited and committed to living differently.  The work and action that it takes to prove my commitment is difficult, and on more than one occasion tried to convince me that this was not for me.  For today, I’m committed to the smallest actions that move me forward and keep me in gratitude for the GREAT life I am blessed to have.   Moving forward I find my commitment growing and expanding.  While each day is never perfect, it is GREAT, and I am so happy for all I have and all I’m committed to got.  I’m building commitment and with each mindful passing day, I’m building a practice that supports my commitment to my life and those I’m blessed to help.

pair of aces and poker player

Live the GREAT Life Like a Poker Pro!

“You got to know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em, know when to walk away and know when to run…” – Kenny Rodgers

As a former consultant in the Casino Gaming Industry I learned a lot from the many gamblers, card players, hustlers, scam artists and cheaters that I worked around.  One of the best lessons I learned was from watching and playing poker.

You will hear poker players say that any decent poker player can make money with a great hand by raising and winning the pot.  A good poker player can make money with a bad hand by winning with a bluff… A great poker player can take a great hand and throw it away when the risk is not worth the reward (not an easy lesson to learn)…

Life is all about learning to play the hand your were dealt…  Life can be a gamble, but I believe a GREAT life is learning to take calculated risks.  Winning in poker and in life is not always based on the hand you were dealt but how well you play your hand.

In poker calculating risk and reward is very easy.  In life, risk and reward are difficult to calculate.  What’s the risk of chasing a dream?  When do you let go of a dream like folding a bad hand?  What does poker tell us about life?  In my experience living life like the haphazard gambler may lead to poverty and often does, and a life lived too cautiously may result in great success but often doesn’t.

What I’ve come to know is that life, like in poker, is all about getting in the game.  Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of waiting till the best hand comes along… We take calculated risks and play the hand we were dealt to the best of our ability.  The point is, we can’t win in poker or in life by sitting and watching the game… You can’t win what we are not willing to risk.

One of the worst possible hand in poker is “10 and 2 with non matching suits” (also known as Ten-deuce off-suit).   This hand was named after poker legend Doyle Brunson (by the way, calling Doyle a poker legend is an understatement).  Why is one of the worst hands in poker is named after Doyle Brunson?  Doyle won the world series of poker with it!

Play the hand you were dealt.  Get into life and take calculated risks but don’t be too afraid to risk and never regret being too cautious but experiment!  My formula for calculating risk in life is simple… To win love, honor, value, friendship and happiness I’ve learned to risk my ego and sometimes my heart, even when I’ve come up short, I’ve never lost.  To those of you waiting to get in the game I wish you GREAT luck, the best of luck!

Value vs. Appreciation and Respect

“Appreciate the things and people in your life while remaining independent of them. Give thanks for them, but realize that they do not complete you. Only you can complete you.” – Serenity Rey

When I worked in the casino industry, I came across very few individuals who had the discipline to earn a living as a professional.  What set the professional apart from the (unlucky) gambler was the professional their respect of the chips they played and the game.  The professional played a five dollar bet the way they played a $500 or $5,ooo chip.  The chips had no value, rather the professional had a respect and appreciation for the chip and the best strategy to win a game.  In recent months I’ve tried to take away my perception of value to all I see and focus on respect and appreciation.

I started my practice by trying to think less about the value I give to my money.  I try to treat a dollar with the same respect and appreciation I do 100 dollars.  When I see a penny in the parking lot I pick it up.  In fact I recently was walking and found change scattered on the sidewalk.  I stopped to pick it up.  It was 45 cents, 2 dimes, 4 nickles, and five pennies.  I felt a little embarrassed but no matter, I’ve learned to appreciate and respect money, and this lesson spilled over into all areas of my life.

This shift if thinking to respecting and appreciating money led to a new level of respect for earning.  I work as hard for a client that pays me $200 per hour as I would for a client who payed me $50 dollars, or for someone I offer my time to pro bono.  I appreciate opportunities to be of service.  Don’t get me wrong, I value my time but I don’t set the price for my service, the market does.  I charge standard rates and adjust according to supply and demand.  One project isn’t better than another. One customer is no more important than another.  I appreciate the work and I love to be of service.  Since I’ve really learned to value my time I try to work on projects that make me feel appreciated and respected.  If a work project pays well but doesn’t feel good, I don’t take it.  This was the start of understanding how and when to assign value and appreciation.

The most important lesson I’ve learned is to take away the value I assign to people.  I use to assign rank and order to people and assign a level of importance based on their value to me.  This person can help me in some area of my life while the other is a burden.  This person is famous so they are better than that person. This person is rich so they are better… The thought that I would rank people makes me feel a little ashamed of myself.  Luckily, I’ve been able to acknowledge my bias and try to appreciate people for who thy are.  I’ve just now come to understand how important it is to have appreciation and respect for each and every individual.  To remove value from people, places and things allows me to have an appreciation and respect that makes my relationship to whatever I see so much better.

I don’t know if this blog is just one long incoherent ramble… I wanted to share a small shift in my perspective that has have huge affects of my emotional health and overall feeling of joy.  I use to assign value to things that really have no value and learn to appreciate them for what they are.  By focusing less on assigning value to people, places and things, I’ve learned to value what really matters my time.  Which only encourages my feelings of appreciation, respect and gratitude for all I am surrounded by.  My time is valuable and there are people I hope to help and inspire who I hope to spend more of my time with.  A better understanding of value and appreciation has allowed me to see a deeper level of a GREAT LIFE all around me.  I hope you will try this exercise and that you are able to see the beauty and appreciate all you see.

 

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Welcome to the GREAT Life Daily!

Every blog has it’s first day, and this is mine! I imaging most blogs start out with no readers or followers. I guess I’m thinking to myself, “what am I doing? Nobody is ever going to read this”… “who cares about what you have to say”… etc.  My negative thinking is strong! As strong as could be without being diagnosed with some serious mental problem!  I believe we all have these thoughts.  We all have things we want to do. We all have hopes and dreams… we all think of some life we wish we could be living, but our thoughts tell us “I can’t do that,” “I’m just wasting time and money,” or worst of all our thoughts tell us “I don’t deserve that.”  I’ve spent my life fighting these thoughts and ultimately learned to overcome them.  But overcoming the thoughts is only part of the equation.

I’ve spent my life obsessed with learning about people.  I have a BA in Psychology and went on to get a M.S. and Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology.  Organizational Psychology is the study of psychology in business.  I studied leadership, workplace motivation and morale, and my primary focus was on how companies inspired people to change.  In my professional studies I learned that companies are great at managing change but are lousy at inspiring people to change.  In my personal experience, I meet people inspired to change but don’t know how to manage the process.  I’ve developed frameworks and theories that bridge the gap between managing change while staying inspired and motivated to do the work.  As a coach and consultant I’ve helped lots of people make long lasting change to improve their life. Most important, I’ve learned a process that helped me change my life.

In blogs to come I will be sharing my experience and expertise to inspire you to living what I refer to as the GREAT life.  Please read more about me on the about page and feel free to email me your story or any questions you might have.  Thank you for reading and hope today will be another GREAT day toward a GREAT life!