The Courage to Listen

By November 6, 2017Leadership, Self-Worth

Photo Credit: Evolving Science

It takes compassion and discipline to listen to others. To truly be present in the moment and listen to their words, their body language and their energy. Most of us (myself very much included) don’t do this. So we miss many opportunities to love, serve, extend kindness.

It takes something different to listen to the voice of our own soul: courage. Most of us don’t do this either. Because it’s terrifying. The voice of the soul is always counter to the life we crafted. So to listen to it is to set fire to all we’ve carefully constructed. But some do listen and begin to organize their lives and priorities around what this voice is whispering.

I have witnessed this act of courage on many occasions the past year.

I have seen it in the work Emily and I do at Root + River — where every single client came to us (either by serendipity or word-of-mouth) after saying “yes” to the voice. Each time, it required a re-organizing and re-purposing — often of very comfortable and secure lives.

I’ve seen it in those sent to me to mentor through a “what’s next” happening in their lives. After what is often many years of ignoring it, they began to listen. Or they had a cataclysmic event happen that awoke the voice. In listening they could see — that what they had thought was important and urgent was neither important nor urgent. And what was important and urgent was to listen to that voice.

I’ve seen it in my immediate family and closest friends — embracing their true selves at the expense of lighting fire or walking away from the movie set they’d built for their life. At the expense of trading the picture in their head for the voice in their soul. At the expense of relationships that were crudely pieced together to create a facsimile of family or love.

And I’ve witnessed it in my own life — in often starkly painful ways. The whisper to leave Boise and move to Austin. The clear insistence to build a new kind of branding practice with Emily. The quite but always-there prompt to encourage my wife of 25+ years to go find herself. The calling away from the church I’d attended with regularity for nearly 43 years. The push to begin sharing my musings I hear in my soul with the world. And a thousand or more other prompts, urges, whispers, pushes, pulls for a variety of moments.

All that have finally listened to this voice report a similar thread. That the voice is like drums in the distance, or a heartbeat, or the roar of a distance river, or the pounding of the surf. When the first act of courage occurs (to acknowledge this often far off sound), a new act of courage emerges — to step towards it. In doing so you begin to hear more clearly. Until you are close enough that it, indeed, it as as clear as a direct whisper in the ear.

Here’s what I know about this voice …

  • It doesn’t have a Plan B.
  • It is directly destructive of your current plans and ideas for success.
  • It uses no logic but makes complete sense.
  • It is always supported by what appear to be random coincidences and occurrences.
  • Those that have ignored this voice in themselves will be your greatest detractors.
  • It will produce some sort of creative output: writing, singing, art, spoken word.

Once tuned in, you can hear it all the time. Like living right on the shore of a river rather than hearing it from a distance. What did it say to me this morning?

Write about the courage to listen to this voice.

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