Winning or Learning?

I am a competitive person. Maybe it is because of being the baby of the family. I always had to keep up, and somehow along the way it made me competitive. Now that does not mean that I always have to win (although it is fun). For me it is the journey that matters. How hard did I try? How much did I care? How much did I push myself? How much did I sweat? Did I improve at all?

For me the competition is often against myself, not others. It is about making myself better, stronger, faster, sharper. Can I do something I have never done before and succeed? And, even if I do not succeed, did I truly try? That is what matters most to me. I have a hard time when folks are lazy, or when they expect something to be handed to them on a silver platter. I have what I have in life because I worked my ass off, not because it was delivered with lace, bows, and doilies.

I frequently read Seth Godin’s blog and a recent one made me ponder the idea of learning and competition.

“Did you win?”

“A far better question to ask (the student, the athlete, the salesperson, the programmer…) is, “what did you learn?” Learning compounds. Usually more reliably than winning does.”

Short and sweet, but to the point. Trying is learning. Trying and failing then trying again and again is what it is all about, even if in the framework of competition.

What do you think?

Listen to what people do

Sometimes short and sweet makes an idea stick. I have been thinking about my actions and the actions of others. So often we are let down because of what others tell us they are going to do, and then they let us down. Maybe they do not follow through with what they told us they would do, (you know when it is just lip service). Or maybe it is the complete opposite, maybe they do not talk often but they show you their true being by what they did (or did not do). A recent blog post from Seth Godin, that was short and sweet really made me think:

“Two ways to listen

You can listen to what people say, sure.

But you will be far more effective if you listen to what people do.”

What if we started talking less (I am the first to say I need to do this) and watch our actions more? Does what we do matter more than what we say? Does showing someone we love them stick more than saying the words: “I love you”?

Do we really listen to what people do? What someone does shows intent and often leaves a lasting impact where words can sometimes be forgotten. It does not mean that words are completely lost, but what you experience with another is often hard to forget. It is why the phase: “actions speak louder than words” is so common to say, but do we often think about that when we take action? Probably not, but we should.

Listening to what people do is also an act of patience, so is listening to what people say. Listening to what people do just takes more conscious effort. When someone is standing before you there is more of an obligation to focus on them, make eye contact, and give them your time as you listen to them talk. There is no obligation to listen to what people do. That takes another layer of effort and care. You probably listen more to someone’s actions when you feel you have been wronged, but do you listen when they do something good? My hunch is that we all can do better to share our gratitude for others when we listen and see the good they have brought to our life.

Here is to a week of more active listening. Thank you, Seth.