As a father, husband, and professional I am often presented with challenges at home, at work, and in my personal ambitions. I like getting in to the zone of discomfort, testing myself, raising the bar, failing fast, and learning quickly. I also make time to reflect, consider the intellectual and emotional learnings along the way. Honest reflection, feedback distillation, and not taking myself too seriously are foundational elements for growth… but as a father, husband, and manager or colleague I’ve also learned that growth through listening not only teaches ourselves new ways to be within the world but it also creates bonds of trust, family, and community that further cement the foundation for everyone to thrive.
Kids teach us new ways to listen, to care, and to love. From the moment our children are born they train our intuition to be highly tuned to their everyday expressions. On day one we listen to them breathe, learn their facial expressions, listen to their heartbeat, and familiarize ourselves with their subtle gestures like the sound of their cries and how they move. We learn what makes them sad, happy, content, angry, and irritated and we respond to their subtle cues, their cries, their smile, their facial gestures. In turn, we learn from them and they learn from us… our smell, our touch, the feel of our skin, hair, and our facial expressions. We create a bond that forges a lifelong familial love. Our children captivate us naturally and our love grows deeper every day. And as they age and develop into independent thinkers with their own emotional reactions we learn to respond and guide them through our continuous learning and understanding of what makes them tick. We often we see reflections of ourselves, our spouses, parents, and siblings within their outlook and response to the world. We also subconsciously guide them through our own behaviours and actions as responses to them or to what is happening around us. Do we genuinely listen? Our actions communicate more loudly than our words. Do we grunt and say “uh uh” while we glance at our smartphones or watch television or continue washing the car?
By quieting the mind, removing distractions, and giving our children undivided attention we learn to hear and observe their truths, and reflect back the love they need to feel secure and thrive. By listening we build a foundation of trust where they can come to us in good times and bad… seeking guidance or support.
These same principles apply with your spouse and with your colleagues. I’m very task driven. I see a job, I break it down into the achievable tasks and execute. I’m like that with all my endeavours. My wife often asks me to sit and linger after dinner and let the conversation naturally evolve. Normally I’m thinking about the dishes, the kids’ homework, or the work I need to follow up on. She simply wants me to sit and connect. By listening to her, calming my mind, ignoring the work tasks, I’m learning how to love her the way she needs to be loved. In doing so, she encourages me to drop the anxiety about the waiting tasks and to focus on the couple. The benefit is the bond becomes stronger, the trust deepens, and our joy grows. In return, she teaches me to calm my mind and let my emotions surface, dance around, make themselves known, encourage reflection and ultimately move through them to a position of strength.
Everyone has a unique gift to share and experiences that shaped their outlook. We are so busy every day with work tasks that we often don’t make time to really know the people we work with. By listening, avoiding biases, appreciating our colleagues’ unique perspectives, we further cement our trust, revel in our differences, and find common ground to build relationships.