Monday, March 3, 2014

Get the Myopia Out of Your Ear.

   Is it important to listen? You betcha. But listening is a 101 level skill. Listening alone isn't nearly a world class skill. It is the foundation of a larger skill we'll call "Creative and Open-Minded Listening". Perhaps the difference is apparent. But just in case it's not, here are two imaginary examples of listening gone awry...

   An astute Native American repeatedly refined the bow and arrow based upon feedback from his customers. He continually tested new versions of the latest bow and arrow technology, and based on that information he consistently produced unparalleled bow and arrow quality. Every military leader in the region awaited his latest versions and paid handsome sums to keep an "edge". Which was awesome, until some dudes showed up with guns. 

   Benedict was an extraordinary hunter. His tracking ability and marksmanship were far above anyone within 500 miles of his town. A lifetime of learning from the great hunters of his region had earned him a place at the top of hunting culture. He earned tremendous sums of money from trading pelts and meat to people from far and wide. Which was awesome, until some guy started farming cattle near his village. 

   Now you might think, "well you're talking about major shifts in technology, or lifestyle". Perhaps, but in the first example someone other than the "good listener" had figured out that launching a projectile with greater accuracy and less bulky ammunition would be far superior. And, of course, they were correct. 

   In the second example, the hunter focused his attention and questions on being the most amazing hunter ever. But that gave him nothing close to the edge of the farmer who could, through less guile and more routine effort, have a predictable supply of meat and leather.

   Though these may seem obvious, they both circle around the idea of avoiding listening "myopically". When you are asking the wrong question (though it may have served you for years) you can never get the right answer. What to do?

   The best way to avoid this is to use the BIGGEST MENTAL FRAMEWORK possible when thinking about a particular problem. Don't make a better bow and arrow, make a better hunting tool. Don't be a better hunter, be a better food provider. Don't train your horses to be faster, think of a better way of being transported. 

   Improve your listening so you can see your client's problem directly, within a broader potential context. This leads to durable advantages, and profitability. Get the myopia out of your ear, and you'll put more money in your pocket. 


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