When I was seven, I learned a powerful lesson the hard way. My older sister, and a few of her friends, where sliding down our ice-covered driveway while standing up. Our driveway, although not very long, had a fairly steep slope. Being seven, I insisted on trying it myself. My sister and her friends all told me I shouldn’t. But I’ve always been just a little hard-headed. So, down I went. And then down I went.
That’s not the end of the story. It’s the beginning of my lesson. Sure, I was young, and that’s when a lot of unnecessarily painful lessons are learned. But I’m long past the time when I could use that as my excuse for not listening to the advice offered by others. Most people have used YouTube to find a video demonstrating how to fix a problem. But often, we just don’t like it when people offer unsolicited advice. Why is that? I think 99.9% of the time, people are just genuinely trying to help by sharing their experience with a certain problem. So why not, at least consider, the advice?
Perhaps there is no greater illustration of the power of listening, than that of the Japanese auto industry revolution. In prior automotive design, engineers made a design and gave it to the workers to build without a clear channel for feedback and revision. But, in 1950 Dr. Edwards Deming was invited to Japan to teach his principle for statistical quality control; a methodology which is mandates listening to everyone in the design and build process. Demings’s principles were well received in Japan. Their auto industry went from average, to being the envy of the world.
You might even say that learning to truly listen is like a superpower. It can save you a lot of time, energy, and resources. I do sometimes still struggle with being locked-in on a certain thought or plan. But when I’m at my best, I’ll do my best to fully understand, and consider, the advice of others. I need no better daily reminder than that of my fractured front tooth. Which I wouldn’t have, if I had I just taken my sister’s good advice.
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Thanks for reading.