Four years after a conversation with a high school junior, I received an email from him out of the blue. He thanked me for that conversation and the profound impact it had on him.
In this student’s 11th grade year, he took my Physics course. It was only a week or so into class when he started putting his head down on his desk and falling asleep.
After class, I asked him what was going on. Was he getting enough sleep? Was my class boring? Was he not into the topic?
This was a foreign exchange student, and he told me that he already took Physics in China, so he knew all of the content already.
One of my favorite aspects of teaching is that I’m constantly exploring greater depths of the fundamental content we uncover in class. And there are ALWAYS greater depths to explore and a greater understanding to develop.
I told him that about myself, and I challenged him to keep his mind open:
to see deeper than he's seen before
to find gold in topics he already “knows”
In fact, those times when we think we know everything there is to know - about a topic, a person, a view, or even ourselves - our mind closes off, and curiosity, exploration, and wonder become impossible.
Four years later and that conversation was still impacting that student.
We do this in our life ALL the time. Once we learn a little bit about something, we pack it away in our minds as covered territory and we're no longer curious about it.
We do this to the people in our lives: we think we already know them, so we stop really listening to them and trying to get to know them. We treat people - MOST people - as if they’re simple layovers until we get to our real destinations.
Family, colleagues, neighbors, students, and clients - we treat them like stepping stones between destinations.
We no longer see our neighborhoods. We no longer see our furniture, pictures, or vehicles. All of it gets categorized as the things we know and no longer need to explore.
We become certain about the people, places, and things in our lives.
And where there is certainty, there is no possibility.
I invite you, dear reader, to stop being so damn certain about the people and conversations in your life. Listen for the gold in them and what they’re saying - it’s there.
That person you live with - what if there are depths to them that you’ve NEVER explored?
That person you work with - what if your knowledge about them only scratches the surface of who they really are and aspire to be?
That conversation you’ll be in a little later - what if it is the most important conversation you could be in?
This is what it is to listen, to really listen. Listening means hearing beyond what you already know.
Trust me: there are dimensions of beauty, insight, and understanding that will shatter the boxes you keep putting others into.
This type of unconditioned, unlimited, and unconventional listening is likely the greatest gift and honor we can give anyone in our lives.
And in those depths of heightened awareness, you might just find greater depths of yourself too.
Thank you so much for reading. 🙏❤️
P.S. As a transformational coach, I help people and organizations move beyond their self-imposed limitations to be their best and feel amazing. If you’re interested in finding out how I can support you or your organization, reach out and let’s talk. 💌