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Are You Really Listening?

You know that song by Simon and Garfunkel – Sounds of Silence is one of my favorite songs from the 60s. The message I want to share with you today is the power of listening.

How often do we have conversations with somebody and we’re not listening?

You might say, “Oh I always listen to people, and I’m a good listener, and I’m polite.”  But halfway through that conversation, do you start thinking about what you’re going to say in response to what they’ve just said? Are you trying to solve their problem as they’re telling you their problem? Are you trying to top their story when you should be just listening? You need to give 100 percent of your attention when somebody is talking.

The story about listening that I want to share with you is about Flight 1549. That’s the USAIR flight that Captain Sully flew into the Hudson River. It was about eight years ago. Captain Sully had just experienced total engine failure and he was speaking with the air traffic controllers and the different people that pilots have to speak to as they leave their airport and travel to their destination.

Listen to the transmission that day and you’ll discover the power of listening and maybe the power of not listening. Two examples – one, the pilot Captain Sully was talking to air traffic control and they were encouraging him to land in Teterboro Airport as he was announcing he was going into the Hudson. They weren’t listening. And then when Sully landed in the water or was about to land in the water, he heard his flight attendants saying “brace, brace for landing.” They were listening to the pilot’s directions and they were following the directions. Listening can be powerful in your personal life. It can be powerful in your corporate life too.

Here’s what I want you to do later today.  When somebody starts a conversation with you, discipline yourself to listen that entire conversation. Don’t look at your phone. Don’t look at your laptop. Don’t think about what you’re going to say. Don’t think about how this conversation is frivolous and not important to you. Just focus in on what that person is saying and care about what they’re saying. Give it all of your energy until that person is finished speaking and only then do you respond.

Try that today. You might find it’s hard but it’s important.


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When A Moment Has The Potential To Be A Game-Changer


Listen to the words of This Is The Moment. They are powerful. It’s one of my favorite songs. This is the moment from Jekyll and Hyde. Turn up the volume real loud when you listen to that one.

It talks about taking advantage of a moment, being ready for it. Reach out and go for that star. Maybe you’ll only hit the moon, but you’re going to be successful.

Let me share a story with you. I was a young man. I had the opportunity to take a position on the East Coast. I was a brand new father. It was a very big position, a big advancement in my career, but I’d be moving my family halfway across the country with a new child, taking her away from proud grandparents.

I dwelled on that decision and chose to take that moment and take that job. That positioned me well for the next ten years of my career. Was it a hard decision? Was it an important decision? Was it a life changing moment? Yes, on all counts. It was difficult for our family. It was a hard job for me, and a difficult job for my wife, but we survived. We were better for it. It was a moment we took advantage of.

Here’s another moment in my life that I’d like to share with you. I was working with an environmental organization and we had decided to give an award to an oil company. After some news hit the papers about something that had happened with that company, we made the decision to not present that award.

That was a hard decision to make. I had to take that moment and decide what I was going to do. I informed the CEO that we would not be presenting that award. He called me one afternoon a few days later. I was sitting in the bleachers watching my son play baseball. The CEO  introduced himself and he said, “Bruce, I think you’re making the wrong decision. That award is very important to us, and we would like to receive it.”

I said, “No, sir. We cannot give you that award.”

His response was, “Well, this could be a career-ending decision for you, young man.”

I said, “It’s a decision our board and I have made and we have to stick with it because of the principles and the vision and the mission of our organization.”

Did it end my career? Absolutely not. Did I feel better about myself? You bet. Did it affect my career? A little bit.  That’s that’s the power of a moment.

We’re all going to have those moments in our family, in our careers, in our life.

Take advantage of those moments, but also make sure you’ve thought it through – with your spouse, with your parents, with your co-workers or whoever might be that mentor, that person that cares about you, that knows you and can help you make that decision.


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My Favorite Books and Videos

I am always searching for more education, motivation and inspiration. Here’s a list of my favorite books and videos. Please share your favorites in the comments section below this post.

Some of my all-time favorite books

One Thing by Gary Keller

Everybody Matters by Bob Chapman

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Strength Finders by Tom Rath

Good to Great by Jim Collins

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Lead with a Story by Paul Smith

The Elephant and the Dragon by Robyn Meredith

Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott

The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo

On the bookshelf waiting to be read

Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss

Primal Leadership – Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Galeman

Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury

Links to some of my favorite videos

Start with Why – Simon Sinek:

US Airways video (fast forward to 4:00)

It’s Not about the Nail:



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