Growing up we were always instructed to stop, look and listen before we crossed the railroad tracks. To this day, the advice of those three words remains valid. What I have learned over my decades is that stop, look and listen is also smart advice for the internal evaluation of our personal direction and well-being. Stop. Continual movement of our minds and bodies will at some time run us across treacherous tracks or potentially in harm’s way. When your mind is at rest it is recharged and refueled with clarity and creativity. Look. Our eyes are often fixated on the visual stimulation of our electronic devices. We must not let the digital distractions keep us from seeing what is going on around us or from taking a look at what is happening inside ourselves. Listen. When you stop at the railroad tracks and listen intently, you might hear the faint sound of the approaching train or the distant blast of its horn. In a world that broadcasts sounds competing for our attention, it is just as important to listen in the silence with our ears open for the sounds in the distance. This is when we hear the symphony of life being played out internally and all around us. As we traverse the crossways of various tracks in our life, take the time to stop, look and listen.
It seems like 2013 just got started and we are already at the end of January. Beginning a new year is always exciting, as we typically resolve to make improvements. While not a resolution, I made a personal commitment to strive to listen better. Listening is vital – hearing what others are saying is what makes listening valuable and it ultimately has it own rewards.
As we close out January I am seriously awestruck by what I have heard from business prospects and clients throughout this month. Listening is just a start – how we react, respond and produce results is what truly matters.
As I’ve listened this month, here’s what I’ve heard:
“We want you to raise our retainer fee.” Now that’s a first. Our client asked us to raise our fee by a set percentage as they wanted our firm to share in their success. To me this may be the ultimate recognition of a true partnership between firm and client, and a wonderful compliment to our work. The resulting reward is that we raised the bar for what we will deliver every day in this client relationship to yet a whole new level.
“Listening to your passion makes me want to go to work for you.” When the prospect says that after hearing your firm’s pitch for their business, you know they have already experienced the passion your team brings in their work. The resulting reward is a foundation of trust to build the working relationship with passion to help them achieve their goals.
“Best pitch ever. You blew the others away with your creativity.” Those are strong sentiments to hear after your team pitches a highly competitive national prospect. Yes, we won the business as the result of tenacious teamwork and creativity that positively differentiates our work. The resulting reward is that we continue to improve and innovate internally so we can share those great ideas with clients to grow their business.
The rewards of listening are not in hearing your own voice or thoughts but rather in experiencing the end result of what dedication, passion and creativity articulate in their own ways. You bet I will be listening even more.