On Thinking Well and Listening Better

Slippage comes in many forms. We drift away from healthy thought patterns and retreat into old habits with fruitless toils. Mental and emotional fatigue make way for that auto-pilot way of life that leaves us feeling more like a spectator and less like the star. We drift to the sidelines and stop stepping to the plate, and the funk is hard to shake.

I think at the core we all desire to live fully passionate, fully engaged and fully realized. We ache to actualize our true potential in life's mundane and more meaningful avenues. We'd like to trade hangovers for layovers and white noise for laser focus. But with so much distraction and seemingly so little time in the day, where do we even begin?

While I'm not a professional in the space, I do have some observations on thinking well and listening better, and it's my hope they might help you get one step closer to your ideal path.

Think Deeply About What Is Possible

Truly. What actions can you take, wherever you are, with whatever is within reach to move ahead? Reject that voice in your head that claims your dreams are too abstract or too ambitious. Counter with progress in any fashion. Deflect self-critique that undermines by way of size or velocity. Progress has merit in any measure. The sooner you offset a static posture with forward momentum, the closer you are to meeting what's possible.

Practice visualizing success. Shift your mindless web-browsing and social media scrolling with imagining your win. Do you see yourself as more joyful, more gracious, less self-centered, less anxious on the other side? How did you get there? What did you bring with you and what was left behind?

Lead with your mind and the body will follow.

Be Where Your Feet Are

While there's liberation in the practice above, temper your days with a pursuit of presence. Observe your setting and the relationships with those around you. Recognize the temperature and impact that you bring to the mix. Are you adding or detracting? Are you closer or further from the potential you desire? 

If you can gauge these things, you have the power to modify. 

The challenge comes in being able to dial in whatever is behind you or ahead of your current environment to manifest what's appropriate for the present. 

Practice Active Listening

This is perhaps one of life's most underrated skills and an art lost on many. If you can learn to listen to, locate and link information that you gather throughout the day, you become that much better prepared for whatever life throws your way.

Listening is the subtle act of absorbing dialogue and interactions. It necessitates a conscious effort to quiet background noise, which includes but is not limited to preparing a response and waiting for your time to respond. When you're truly present and provide the floor to whoever is speaking, you're fully engaged and ready to gather learnings that may empower your path to success.

Locating requires a throttled approach to silence and observation, as Michael Gervais of Finding Mastery, puts it. You must learn to discern actionable insights for personal application. You must locate wisdom and experience.

Linking it all together is what ultimately translates new learning into progress. Are there thoughts or ideas that align with your goals? Are there jarring discrepancies with what you believed to be true? Having learned these things, does realizing your best potential require further investigation or immediate tweaks?

Commit to living on fire and leveraging the curiosity in your bones to fuel the fire in your belly. Think well, listen better and live out the adventure that's written on your heart.

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