As children we are inquisitive, curious adventurers, we are seekers. However, as adults there comes a point where we switch from that state of curiosity into reinforcement and limiting “who we are” and “what we do”. This is problematic because it restricts who you can become; you inherently limit your ability to succeed and your own human performance.
In my work with leaders, there are many factors to success, but here is one very impactful practice to continue to grow: “seeking” as the intent or thinking behind your listening.
As kids we are continually seeking and always growing into the next version of ourselves, receiving feedback from the world around us, rapidly evolving. We’re listening to figure things out and connect the dots. Comparatively, as adults, most often we are listening to agree or disagree with the speaker. We become preoccupied with reinforcing what we know, who we are and how we see the world – we reinforce it to create certainty and concreteness in our identity. But in reality, “who we are” is more like an ever-changing fluid concept than a block of concrete.
- Listening to agree/disagree reinforces your current state and limits expansion. You’re not actually learning and growing; you’re only accepting or discarding based on the existing version of who you are and how you see the world. (stagnant block of concrete)
- Listening for learning, insight or “seeking” enables expansion of how you see the world and creates more possibilities to grow. You’re learning and growing because you’re open to new truths, new perspectives about who you could be and how the world works. (fluid and growing being)
The most successful entrepreneurs, leaders, people, will often tell you that they are inquisitive, and they’ve tried more and failed more than most – they are seekers (who also take action and experiment… that’s for another article). The limit to your success is directly proportional to your capacity for seeking, learning, and converting that into growth. Real learning, at its core takes seeking for insight.
You can be limitless if you create the conditions for growth. Start with seeking.
What to practice: As a first foundational step, you could practice more seeking as you listen, to really hear and expand your perspective from binary “agree or disagree” to expand “multiple” perspectives by internalizing the information in a different way. Ask more curious questions and practice thinking “Hmmm… interesting, that could be true too”.
Questions for reflection: “How could I be a seeker right now?” “Am I listening as a seeker, or to agree/disagree?” “What is one thing I can learn in this conversation?” “What can I learn from this person?” “What is the essence of the person’s thinking, of their idea?”
This goes far beyond simply “listening to understand”; the act of seeking is an intention of multiplicity and co-creation of options. You are seeking new perspective and new truth to expand what’s possible.
If we were always trying to listen as seekers the possibilities are endless. Everyone has something to teach, and everyone has something to learn from each other.