Part 1 in this series was about deepening my listening skills and focusing on what I term Listening 1.0 to 3.0. While those levels were a transformational upgrade for many of my clients, as well as my own goals, some clients were only getting incremental progress. The clients, as well as some of my own objectives, were only making headway by a degree here and there, but we were not creating life-altering transformations. Listening levels 1.0 to 3.0 were still listening using my rational mind. They discounted, pushed away, and minimized the emotions that arose around the client's struggles, beliefs, their assumptions and biases. My own upbringing and professional experience informed me that emotions were to be left at home. Emotions were not welcome in professional environments. And in my family, they weren't even welcome in personal ones. The message I received growing up, and as a young leader, was that we overcome our emotions through willpower, and we get the job done no matter what. Unfortunately, feelings about beliefs and assumptions color our perspectives in a way that creates an invisible barrier, a circle of armor around the heart of the challenge. And this is where Listening 4.0 came online for me. Honoring those feelings and emotions as offering self-protection to our hearts. When explored, it turned out that these emotions surfaced values and wisdom that were meaningful to the client, and as it turned out, to me as well. The surfaced emotions needed to be held up to the light of reality and tested for accuracy during the process. But level 4 isn’t just about valuing emotions and a willingness to feel them. It’s a willingness to listen to other people’s emotions with your heart, your gut, and all your senses, not just your head. What an immense difference this made to the degree of client change. Even so, this was easier to do in my professional capacity when the risk was fairly low, than in my personal life. A half step up, Listening 4.5 upgrades this willingness to listen from the heart as a way of being, rather than a way of what we think of as listening. I’ve been settling into this level over the last several years. So now I bet you’re wondering what Listening 5.0 is? That’s the growth I'm working on now. Listening 5.0 is the ability to listen with the knowledge that everything is as it needs to be, that complexity, ambiguity, and paradox are all around us always. To react and struggle against current reality is a fruitless waste of energy. This doesn’t mean allowing everything and doing nothing. It doesn’t mean action isn’t good and necessary…it usually is! I'm finding that what informs that action, though, is a mindful awareness of how I perceive the situation, the beliefs, assumptions, and emotions that would otherwise grip me, and so limit my options. This level of awareness is what allows our passions and values to drive our ability to create the changes we wish to see in ways that bring out the best in us and enliven us, rather than depress and drain us. Not only did this impact my own personal and professional life, but it allowed me to help my clients transform their lives and create their own best selves. Interested in learning more? Come attend a playshop! Horseplay for Leaders Pt. 1 is live on October 22nd! Click here to book your spot!
Did you miss the first part of this series, How I Upgraded My Listening Skills to Create Greater Transformations Part 1 about Listening 1.0 to 3.0? Click here to head over to that blog post!