Word-Of-the-Week #737: Listen

September 20, 2018 by  

Listen – to give your full attention while someone is speaking. 

How good of a listener are you? Do you have a tendency to want to talk before the other person has fully expressed their thoughts? How does it make you feel when you have the full attention of others?

This week features the 1st part of “Break the Habit Loop” by Ilya Pozin with “Lifestyle Habits That Will Make You Successful.”

“Like peer pressure, habits can make you do stupid things or spur you on to achievement. Cultivating these habits will help you become your best self.   

An entire industry has sprung up around the pursuit of success, full of self-help books, motivational conferences, and decorative Etsy items with uplifting messages. But self-improvement doesn’t require shelling out tons of cash for a patented and trademarked formula for success. Your best self is just a few slight adjustments away.

I, for one, know I could add quality and productivity to my day just by eating breakfast. There’s no big cost. There’s no formula. It’s just a bowl of cereal to kickstart my mind and body each day. Too often I rush out in the morning, living on repeat, never correcting my bad habits.

Breaking (and Making) the Habit Loop

Every repetitive action that we take in our daily lives, good or bad, is a habit we’ve built up over time. According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, this is due to a three-step pattern he calls the “habit loop.” The decision-making part of the brain goes into a kind of sleep mode when the habit loop kicks in, which is why we continue even problematic behaviors.

While this is great for those healthy, success-building habits, it doesn’t bode well for changing negative behaviors. The good news is that there’s a way to break the habit loop.

What it takes is changing the environment that normally cues up the habit loop. “If you want to quit smoking,” says Duhigg, “you should stop smoking while you’re on a vacation — because all your old cues and all your old rewards aren’t there anymore. So you have this ability to form a new pattern and hopefully be able to carry it over into your life.”

But what are those habits that are most in need of an adjustment? Try working on these, and you’ll be on your way to a more successful life:

  1. Don’t talk so much.

Some of the key pillars of success — learning, building relationships, establishing connections — have one thing in common: You’ll never accomplish them if you’re the only one talking. Training yourself to actually listen during a meeting will make you more effective than mentally drafting your next pronouncement.

Tom Peters, successful business author and writer of The Excellence Dividend, actually writes the word “LISTEN” on his hand as a regular reminder to pass the mic during meetings. Listening is especially important in a business setting, where salespeople tend to prepare their next pitch instead of listening to a customer. Retrain your brain to focus on what others are telling you.

  1. Read as much as you can.

It may seem clichéd, but there’s a reason why being well-read is considered a compliment. A study by University of Edinburgh and King’s College London researchers found that there is a correlation between earlier reading capability in kids and higher cognitive function. Leisure readers even report less stress and happier lives, according to a survey by the University of Liverpool.

Even more impressive, a study published in Neurology showed that seniors who had engaged in regular mental activity like reading throughout their lives were less likely to develop the brain plaques that cause dementia and Alzheimer’s, meaning that the simple act of reading may have helped keep their memories sharp in old age.

This week’s focus is to listen and read more. How would it feel to listen more and speak less? Do you find it easy or difficult to focus on what others are telling you? And what better incentive to read more – so you stay mentally sharp in old age?

And speaking of reading, Joe who contributed last week’s WOW has published two books on the life of Al McGuire, “One of the greatest and most colorful coaches in the history of college basketball.”  Check out his website www.jdmpress.net.

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