An Evolution of Listening
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Listening to respond.
Most of my entire life, I have listened to respond.
The majority of people I’ve met are the exact same.
I ashamedly could probably assume that most anyone who had a conversation with me throughout the first thirty years of my life, could attest to my indifference to interject, to be ready to share my opinion or story at the drop of a hat.
This focus and need to respond most often would stem directly from my ego.
Either from trying to bring the conversation back to my own self-absorbed perspective of the world around me. Or in my efforts to prove something or act in a way to fulfill another motivation. Or from trying to be smart, or funny, or feigning gratitude or love, all working one way or another to portray myself in a way that I assume will be liked.
I remembered the first time someone called me out for this. I got defensive. How could I not? We are all just creating our own worlds in our minds based on our own experiences and of course mine was most valid.
As time has progressed, my ego has slowly humbled. These past few months have especially been the most grounding of my life. When you put yourself out there so vulnerably so often, you fail, and grow, and fail again. You beautifully begin to find learning and growth to be more important than your protected idea of yourself.
You start to naturally bring others into your life that care about similar things as you do. You diminish the need to prove anything to anyone, just to be proud of who you are, how you live, and how you impact those around you.
You slowly lose the need to interject. You begin to look at all experiences, as opportunities to learn. You begin to become aware, and listening takes on a new purpose.
Listening to understand.
This is the beginning of my growth into truly understanding others and connecting with them. Growing out of looking at another as an obstacle, a means, or a reinforcer of my ego, but as beautiful, unique human beings in a world of 7 billion other beautiful, unique human beings.
And each of these individuals has something to teach us all.
So why create a barrier to that. Since I have nothing to prove, why not just sit back and listen. Fully try to understand what someone else is saying, where someone comes from, and why they are who they are.
No longer worrying about what I am planning to say, but simply listening, learning, and practicing mindful awareness.
I began to understand people on a deeper level. I started to truly see them. The simplicity, the complexity of being a human. From there, everything seemed simpler, but with more depth and meaning at the same time. Purely enjoying being around others, not because of how they made me feel about myself, but because of my curious enjoyment of their being.
What a beautiful thing that is, as it led to some of the most amazing, meaningful, and supportive relationships.
It wasn’t until an experience about six months ago that my practice of listening blossomed into something more.
I was at an event that worked to break down how we addressed and problem-solved societal challenges. At this point, I was just scratching the surface of my understanding of the breadth and depth of my personal privilege. Of what being a white, affluent male has societally allowed my entire life.
At one point during this workshop, a woman shared a deeply vulnerable and powerful personal story. Without going into the details, I will share the profound impact that her perpetual marginalization had led to—a feeling and belief that her voice was meaningless. Her story left a lasting impression. A needed one at that.
As I’ve grown since, broadened my own perspective, and connected with others from different backgrounds from my own, I’ve learned that she is not alone.
This has led to a new purpose and social context behind when and where I share my perspective with others. And began my journey to a new outlook on how impactful listening can be.
What listening actually is, is an act of empowerment to another.
Listening to empower.
Providing the opportunity to simply be heard, especially in vulnerable sharings, can mean so much to someone. It validates everything—reaffirms that they do matter. Their opinion, their thoughts, their perspective and experiences, aren’t just real and meaningful to them, they are real and meaningful to us all.
It is everything.
If we are creating a world together, a community together, a family together, it’s time to do this right.
As usual, my message condenses down to the basics—understand yourself, accept yourself, and love yourself. From there, it gets simple. Since there is nothing to prove, listen to empower. Don’t push to force your perspective, push to create love.
This same intention is why we are working to build a community based on feedback, based on your voice in creating all that we are and do. Having the opportunity to have a voice and to truly be heard, is at the core of what it means to be a “Founder”—a member of the Foundation community that co-creates how we come together.
All I can guarantee are two things. First, that you will always have a spot at the table in defining who we are, what we do, and why we do it. We are a community, a collective, first and always.
Second is that we will constantly work to instill this perspective in all who we interact with. As we work to help all individuals understand themselves deeper and connect with the world in more meaningful ways, we will build a culture that celebrates that awareness and empowerment.
We work to empower everyone to express themselves, enrich themselves, and most importantly, be themselves, in whoever they truly are.
We will always listen to your opinion. We will always create experiences that incorporate your ideas and input. We will always grow with each of our Founder’s perspectives taken into account.
We hope to build a family here. We don’t just want to hear your story, want to learn from you, want to grow with you—we need to hear your story, we need to learn from you, we need to grow with you.
We are nothing without that.