Be Hear Now

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Principle #48 in Jack Canfield’s book “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be” is Be Hear Now. In short, he stresses the importance of listening.

“Most of the successful people I’ve known are
the ones who do more listening than talking.”

– Bernard M. Baruch

I love the story he shared about Marcia Martin. As an executive coach, she once provided valuable advice to an executive vice president at a major bank. The VP asked her to help him improve the value of the meetings. She asked him what he did in the meetings, and what problems he noticed, the problem became apparent to her.

He talked about he always started the meetings telling people what the purpose of the meeting was, what he thought breakdowns were, and what he wanted them to do.  Marcia realized that the meetings were being consumed by him talking and people just not having an opportunity to talk. She gave him some simple advice.

At the next meeting, she advised him to start with just a single sentence. “The purpose of this meeting is for me to find out from you what you feel is going on in each of your departments, what you feel the breakdowns are, and what you need from me.” And she told him to just be quiet, take notes, nod his head, and let them talk.  If they stopped, the only words he should say is “Well, what else?” and let them talk some more.

A few days later, the VP told Marcia that they just had the most powerful meeting he ever experienced. He did exactly what she suggested, and did his best to listen. As a result, he learned more about the problems his people were having, what they needed, and what he could do for them.

“When people talk, listen completely.
Most people never listen.”

– Ernest Hemingway

Powerful Questions

Sometimes people don’t talk until you ask them the right questions. Jack learned a series of four questions while attending Dan Sullivan’s Strategic Coach Program. (Yes, Jack does what he recommends. He has hired coaches throughout his career, just as he recommends in principle #45, Hire a Personal Coach.)

If you want to start a meaningful conversation with someone, try these four questions.

  1. If we were meeting three years from today, what has to have happened during that that three-year period for you to feel happy about your progress?
  2. What are the biggest dangers you’ll have to face and deal with in order to achieve that progress?
  3. What are the biggest opportunities that you have that you would need to focus on and capture to achieve those things?
  4. What strengths will you need to reinforce and maximize, and what skills and resources will you need to develop that you don’t currently have in order to capture those opportunities?

Ask Yourself

You can also ask these questions of yourself.

As an example, during the month of December, I typically review my goals from the past year and set goals for the next year. That’s what I’m doing right now.

With that in mind, I realized how powerful these questions are for me as I set my goals for the next year, including my breakthrough goal for the next year. However, I’ve modified them slightly.

  1. If we were meeting in December of next year, what happened during that one-year period for you to feel happy about your progress?
  2. What are the biggest dangers you’ll have to face and deal with to achieve that progress?
  3. What are the biggest opportunities that you have that you would need to focus on and capture to achieve those things?
  4. What strengths will you need to reinforce and maximize, and what skills and resources will you need to develop that you don’t currently have to capture those opportunities?

How About You

Can you answer these questions for yourself?

  1. If we met in December of next year, what happened during that one-year period for you to feel happy about your progress?
  2. What are the biggest dangers you’ll have to face and deal with to achieve that progress?
  3. What are the biggest opportunities that you have that you would need to focus on and capture to achieve those things?
  4. What strengths will you need to reinforce and maximize, and what skills and resources will you need to develop that you don’t currently have to capture those opportunities?

More, are you willing to listen to the answers?

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a
lifetime of listening
when you’d have preferred to talk.”

– Doug Larson

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About This Post

I’ve been learning from Jack Canfield (of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame) since 2008. I credit much of my success (including authoring or co-authoring more than 40 books) to applying principles in my life that he teaches. I’m currently going through his book “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be,” covering one principle a week.


Here’s a link to other musing’s on Jack Canfield’s Success Principles.


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