Personal confession: I am a book and advice junkie. I love to learn about how other people have achieved their success. Over the years, I have incorporated dozens of good ideas because, to be honest, it’s a lot easier than re-inventing the wheel. Even today (or maybe especially today), as president of WakeUpNow Inc., I always read, watch and listen to learn what makes people successful.
This is the first in a series of blogs about some of the key principles I’ve witnessed and personally experienced on the road to success.
Lesson #1: Listen More Than You Talk
There is a Japanese proverb that translates to “None of us is as smart as all of us.” What does that mean? It means that even the smartest person in the room doesn’t know everything. It means that asking others for their feedback or advice is smart. If you ask for those things from intelligent, knowledgeable and experienced people, that’s even smarter!
We’ve probably all met people who don’t listen to feedback or new ideas. Why? Is it insecurity? Arrogance? Maybe. Some people just don’t like to admit they need help or constructive criticism. Maybe they see it as a sign of weakness or some kind of admission that they’re “less than”. Whatever the reason, it isn’t smart. Closing the door on everyday learning opportunities is a surefire recipe for limiting your growth as a person and as a professional.
My advice to those people? Be realistic about your limitations and start learning from the experts around you. Want to be a better entrepreneur? Read blogs and watch Ted Talks from successful entrepreneurs. Then LISTEN. Your investment of time will yield huge returns in the form of new ideas, motivation, and a sense of direction.
Want to be a better sales leader? Ask customers questions about their fears, frustrations, hopes and dreams. Then LISTEN. They will basically give you a roadmap to meeting their needs or solving their problem. John Maxwell put it best, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” So listen first.
Want to be a better husband or wife? Ask your spouse honest questions about how you treat them, love them or support them. Then LISTEN. If things are rough, what you hear might sting a little. But would you rather hear it and have a chance to improve on it? Or just be blindsided when things get worse?
The bottom line is this. Smart people listen to the wisdom around them. Smart companies listen to their customers. Smart executives listen to middle managers. Not because everything they say is valid or because every suggestion should become policy; but because it’s information. The more you have, the better decisions you make. Whether you’re in a board room or in your living room, listening proves that you care about the issue, that you are a thoughtful decision maker, and that you value the efforts of those around you. If you can prove that, more people will be listening the next time YOU talk.