Take the leap.

On Listening

Greetings from Bangkok! It’s crowded, but oh, so modern! I loved this town, sight unseen, as soon as I landed, at Suvarnabhumi International Airport eleven days ago. The three of us have had a chance to reacquaint with each other now, through a week in Vientiane, Laos, and a crazy bus ride from there to here.

Things are back in a good groove now, and my thoughts turn to what we are here to start.

About two years ago, I decided that I want to live by these three words: Play, Listen and Drive.

Orangutan Swing is about the first two: play and listen. The last two, listen and drive, is where Design Kompany’s work has been. Where the three words overlap is where we want to find ourselves and stay, as long as possible.

imageA little abstract? Maybe. The idea, and the diagram that came with it have been really useful to me, in thinking about what we are doing and where we are going. But I do realize that it would be helpful to break it down a little so you could have a better idea, too. So I want to talk about these ideas in a little series.

The first concept I want to focus on is listening—as one observer, a friend, once called our travels “listening tour” (which I think is pretty apt. What would you call it?) But what does it mean—to listen? Another friend said, when I told him of our plans: “Oh, you are talking about openness.” But listening, to me, is more than just *being open*—it’s a practice of actively listening for things.

How do you do that? I have a few suggestions:

  1. Slow down. It’s really hard to pay attention when you are distracted. Unplug from your devices. Take yourself out to a quiet space. No matter what kind of listening you’re trying to do, you will find you have more capacity for otheres’ voices once you take the time to listen to yourself.
  2. Practice. With a partner. With a group. Start a conversation get-together where you can practice listening with each other.
  3. Listen for change. Sometimes, it’s hard to just “practice listening.” Gary Hirsch, whose Improv workshop I recently attended, has an excellent suggestion: “be open, to be changed by what you hear.” What are you willing to take from, and do something with, the other person?

What do you think? Do you find these useful? If you are curious to know more about where these thoughts came from, I wrote more, in an email that goes out to our members. You can sign up right here!

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