37 Quotes to Become a Better Listener

Listen Up!

Listen Up!

Listen up,” she said in a voice that was obviously coming from a strong mother, “You had your choice.”

I don’t know what the argument was about, but I noticed her kneeling down, talking to a boy who was about four or five years old. This kid may have been insistent, but my bet was on the mom. She was having none of it.

But, what she said next got my attention, “You are going to learn to listen. That’s a skill you will thank me for later.”

Wow. Not what I expected.

I walked away, thinking how lucky that little guy was to have a mom so intent on teaching him how to be a better listener. One day, he may owe his success to it.

It’s something I have been working on. We all need to listen more. It is one thing to listen, and another to be a listener.

 

Quotes to Help Us Listen Well

Here are some quotes on listening well that may inspire you to become a better listener:

 

“The word LISTEN contains the same letters as the word SILENT.” –Alfred Brendel

 

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” –Ernest Hemingway

 

“If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.” -Turkish Proverb

 

“Be careful how you are talking to yourself because you are listening.”  -Lisa M. Hayes

 

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” -Winston Churchill

 

“Sometimes the most influential thing we can do is listen.” –Bob Burg

 

“The first duty of love is to listen.” –Paul Tillich

 

“There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.” –Rumi

 

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

 

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.” –Harper Lee

 

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.” -Jimi Hendrix

 

“It takes a great man to be a good listener.” –Calvin Coolidge

 

“Listening is being able to be changed by the other person.” –Alan Alda

 

“Whoever answers before listening is both foolish and shameful.” -Proverbs 18:13

 

“One of the greatest skills any leader can master is becoming comfortable with silence.” -David Grossman

 

“The art of conversation lies in listening.” -Malcom Forbes

 

“You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” -M. Scott Peck

 

“Listen like every sentence matters; talk like every word counts.” –Geoffrey Tumlin

 

“One friend, one person who is truly understanding, who takes the trouble to listen to us as we consider a problem, can change our whole outlook on the world.” -E. H. Mayo

 

“God speaks to us every day only we don’t know how to listen.” -Mahatma Gandhi

 

“Big egos have little ears.” -Robert Schuller

 

“A leader must be a good listener. He must be willing to take counsel. He must show a genuine concern and love for those under his stewardship.” –James Faust

 

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“The single most important key to success is to be a good listener.” –Kelly Wearstler

 

“Be a good listener. Your ears will never get you in trouble.” –Frank Tyger

How Leaders Break the Trust Barrier for High Performance

Usaf F-16 Thunderbirds In Tight Formation

4 Elements to Creating A High Performance Team

 

Trust. Find any high performance team with sustained success and you’ll find it. It’s the glue of relationships. It’s the desire to serve the team over self.

As important as it is, you’ll receive little training on it in an MBA program. You may have experienced it, but it seems elusive. Few can describe it; fewer can teach it, and finding a leader who can create it multiple times seems like a dream.

Enter Colonel JV Venable. He’s a graduate of the USAF’s Fighter Weapons School. He commanded and led the USAF Thunderbirds and 1100 American airmen.

 

“Commitment is the demonstrated will to deliver for the people around you.” -JV Venable

 

Teaching trust is crucial. Think about the trust needed to fly within inches of another yet at over 500 miles per hour. You just can’t imagine doing it without the highest degree of trust. JV’s new book, Breaking the Trust Barrier: How Leaders Close the Gaps for High Performance, shares lessons from his experience as a Top Gun instructor with all of us. I recently asked him about creating this level of trust and how everyone can learn from his experience.

 

“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” -Helen Keller

 

Harness the Power of the Thunderbirds

What drove you to write this book?

Book CoverAs you might imagine, the insights and sensations that came with flying on the point of the Thunderbirds were pretty special. More often than not I got the feeling my jet was being furthered by the five jets on my wing.  I was convinced it was an emotional surge until I felt the shift on a particularly smooth day, half way through my first year on the team. In the middle of the demonstration, an unexpected but very real surge of energy hit my jet and it began to turn the entire formation — like a giant hand lifting up my left wing.  During the debrief it became obvious the surge came from the rate of closure and end-game proximity of my left wingman.  He was so close that he caused that wing to become more efficient and produce more lift than the one on the right.  That was the moment I realized it wasn’t just a feeling I was being carried by the team around me; the surge was real.  Just like stock car racers on the track at Daytona, we were drafting. The more I thought about it, the more I could see drafting’s effects everywhere, and the thought would change the way I looked at the world around me.

I wrote Breaking the Trust Barrier: How Leaders Close the Gaps for High Performance out of the passion borne from the physical and emotional surge that began that day on the Thunderbirds.  My goal is to share that passion with people just like you.  We need to spread the leadership bug, and this concept of drafting will make you a carrier.

 

“No team can excel over the long haul without trust.” -JV Venable

 

Leaders and the Drafting Phenomenon

How can understanding the phenomenon of drafting help a leader?

In racing, the concept of drafting is based on a leader cutting a path through the air for those behind him, and a trailer being close enough to the leader’s bumper to shift the drag from the leader’s bumper to his own.  That same concept was alive on the Thunderbirds in the air — and on the ground.

Every unit within our organization was minimally manned, and each relied on the others to help execute its role. Our amazing people were lined up, bumper to bumper, taking the weight, the drag off the individuals and elements in front of them, while they plowed the path for those in trail.

Once you realize the impact closure can have on your team, you’ll see drafting everywhere you look.  Cyclists in the Tour de France, the V formations of migrating geese, even ducklings on a pond will make you realize how your actions can cause gaps to close or expand, and accelerate or slow your organization down.  That dwell time will give you an understanding of the positive impact, or the repercussions of your actions, before you put them in play.

Drafting makes leadership something you can see.

 

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” -Abraham Lincoln

2000 Pilots

Rewrite Code to Create Trust

25 Muhammad Ali Quotes for the Champion In You

Cassius Clay Muhammad Ali circa 1972

Lessons from the Greatest

Muhammad Ali inspired a generation with his lessons of perseverance, of hard work, of determination, and of giving. A former heavyweight boxer, he transcended beyond boxing to be known as one of the greatest sports figures of all time.

He said he was “the greatest.” Not many would argue with it, either. But he also said, “I am an ordinary man who worked hard to develop the talent I was given.”

His many quotes are memorable because of their imagery and poetic qualities.

Though Muhammad Ali’s life journey has ended, his lessons and quotes will remain timeless reminders. From his passion to his philanthropy, Ali trail blazed his own path and stood out from the crowd.

Let his own words remind you that there’s a champion inside of you—because all of us have the opportunity to be great.

 

25 Quotes from a Champion

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit, what his eyes can’t see.” –Muhammad Ali

 

“Don’t count the days; make the days count.” –Muhammad Ali

 

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” –Muhammad Ali

 

“What you’re thinking is what you’re becoming.” –Muhammad Ali

 

“It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.” –Muhammad Ali

 

“Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” –Muhammad Ali

 

“I’m no leader; I’m a little humble follower.” –Muhammad Ali

 

“I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.” –Muhammad Ali

 

“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.” –Muhammad Ali

 

“It’s not bragging if you can back it up.” –Muhammad Ali

 

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you down. It’s the pebble in your shoe.” –Muhammad Ali

 

“Old age is just a record of one’s whole life.” –Muhammad Ali

 

“The man who has no imagination has no wings.” –Muhammad Ali

 

“I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest.” –Muhammad Ali

 

“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend you are.” –Muhammad Ali

 

“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.” –Muhammad Ali

 

 

“Inside of a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It’s staying down that’s wrong.” –Muhammad Ali

Embrace Greater Transparency

Learn to Embrace Greater Transparency

It’s an attribute most of us say we want. We crave authenticity. We admire individuals and companies who are transparent. No one wants to be known as someone who hides the truth or distorts it.

As I write this, my mind immediately flashes back to a conversation with someone who would definitely be described as transparent. He clearly had no filter between his brain and his mouth, spouting off stories that would make anyone wince. Dinner with him was, uh, quite memorable, to say the least. I learned things that I still wish I could unlearn.

But that’s the exception. Most of us could benefit from being a little more open, a little more transparent than we are today.

 

“A little honesty will go a long way.” –Morgan Spurlock

 

Are You Afraid of Transparency?

Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock has been immersing himself in environments that most of us would never experience. Remember his movie “Super Size Me” where he eats McDonald’s for thirty days? It didn’t stop there. He also stayed in prison and worked a month in a coal mine. In 2011 he made a film about marketing and product placement that was funded entirely by sponsors. It’s called “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.”

Most companies that he met with did not want anything to do with the film. In fact, six hundred companies turned him down because they didn’t like the idea of having no control. But seventeen partners said yes.

 

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” -Thomas Jefferson

 

 

Why did most companies turned him down?

They were afraid of transparency. Companies want to tell their own story. They don’t want someone else to unpredictably tell it for them.

And that’s understandable.

But the lesson that Spurlock teaches is that we should embrace greater transparency because it increases trust.

 

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” –Dalai Lama

 

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“Increased transparency equals increased trust.” -Skip Prichard

5 Principles of Engagement That Will Transform Your Business

Snowblowers in Miami

It’s All About Engagement

We’ve all seen it. Questionable decisions, made in a corporate office, are rolled out. No one questions the corporate mandate. Sure, some may grumble or may complain about the stupidity of something, but little is done. No one is listening anyway, especially to the employees who are just told to hit their numbers.

 

“Engagement is being totally present.” -Steven D. Goldstein

 

Steven Goldstein was an executive at Sears when he visited a store in Florida. His question Why Are There Snowblowers in Miami?, is now the title of his book and is a wakeup call to leaders. Engaging with employees and customers in the right way will help organizations make better decisions.

Steve has held executive positions with leading global brands including American Express (Chairman & CEO of American Express Bank), Sears (President of Sears Credit), Citigroup and others. He also has advised numerous CEOs on how to improve performance.

 

“Leaders connect by interacting authentically with employees, not by dictating to them.” -Steven D. Goldstein

 

How a Snowblower Changed Everything

The story is such a compelling example that I have to ask you to start with it. Tell us about the title of the book and how it impacted your leadership thinking.

Twenty years ago, while I was President of the Sears Credit Card business, I happened to be in Miami in February to make a speech. As I always did, I visited the local store – to have a look around, talk to employees and see what we could do for them to help improve sales. When I walked into the lawn and garden department, my eyes were immediately drawn to four shiny red snowblowers. I found a salesman and asked him, “Why are there snowblowers in Miami?”

On my flight back to Chicago, I started to think about all of the other “snowblower” stories I had come across in my career, and it struck me as a perfect metaphor for what is wrong in business. Since then, my experience in leading, advising and investing in companies convinced me that there had to be a way to attack this.

 

“Maintaining the status quo keeps you from achieving your full potential.” -Steven D. Goldstein

 

I tend to question everything.   If someone tells me, “That’s the way it’s always been done,” I will challenge that process. Because what I have found is that with many leaders, there is a gravitational bias towards the status quo. And while it’s not likely to get you into trouble, simply maintaining the status quo will keep you from achieving your full potential.

I began codifying the approaches, principles and practices I was using and realized it would be great if I could share this learning with other leaders so that they could improve the performance in their own organizations. So I began writing this book, and I thought this was the only title that made sense.

Most recently, I have been giving speeches about these principles and working with several leadership teams to teach them how to make this part of their daily diet. It is resonating extremely well.

 

“A company is only good as the people it keeps.” -Mary Kay Ash

 

Adopt an Outsider’s Perspective

How do leaders best adopt an outsider’s perspective — especially if they have been at an organization for many years?

For many leaders, this is not easy to do. If you are a consultant or a private equity investor, you look at a business as an enterprise consisting of assets that generate cash flow, which in turn generates attractive returns to shareholders. Through that aperture, you want to identify those areas where changes, improvement and new directions can be made to enhance value. You are consciously looking for those nuggets.

For many leaders, those nuggets are hiding in plain sight. Leaders must first accept that adopting an “outside in” perspective is critical to finding this gold. I’m currently Chairman of a private equity-owned company, and recently the leadership team was in a brainstorming session to explore new opportunities and approaches as well as to consider whether our existing business model needed changes. After discussing many good ideas, someone asked, “Will our PE owners be OK with this? I’m not sure they will.” My answer to him was, “They are looking to us to present them with a plan that makes sense, and if it does, they will say thank you.”

Like most things, leaders must accept the fact that their views are colored, even distorted, by their history with the company – and that this skewed perspective limits the possibilities they are able to see. They have to be willing to take the first step, as with any program that induces change. I tell leaders to take a long walk, forget everything they know about their business, come back into the building as if it were the first time and just start asking questions. While it may sound somewhat silly, it actually creates some discomfort; more importantly, it generates excitement about this exploration possibly leading them in new directions. I myself question everything: Why do we do it that way? What does that mean? What other options have you explored? Do you have the right players in each position? This “fresh eyes” approach is one of my five principles of engagement and is essential for generating any real, positive change.

 

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” -Robert Louis Stevenson

 

Most connections don’t happen inside the boardroom. Why do so many leaders fail to connect with those who could fuel the company’s success?