Listening: Attention or Intention?

Attention Listening

Listening

“PAY ATTENTION!!!!!”

In your life, how many times have you heard that phrase, either from someone else or your internal voice? Shutting out distractions like noise, devices or the torrent of thoughts and imagination that the Buddhist tradition has termed the “monkey mind” seems nearly impossible. We slap ourselves internally in some fashion, and try to refocus on the speaker. This can be just as jarring as the distractions themselves!

Mindful Listening is really not about attention. It’s about intention. Let me explain how I understand and experience the difference.

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Mindfulness and Taking Stock

Mindfulness

Mindfulness

This past week was a good and difficult one.
One of the hard bits was working to get five + days of work done in three, as I had scheduled Thursday and Friday off to celebrate my anniversary and birthday. I work to do this every year and have been pretty successful to date, although banishing work from my mind is always a challenge as an entrepreneur. Still, it was good to get away from the screens and focus on each day and the moments each held, along with the commemoration activities.
I focus on this set of events for a couple of reasons.
First, I wish to celebrate life and relationships, and this is another way to mark them as memorable and life-giving.
Second, this particular birthday gives me pause. I am now the age my father was when he was consumed by cancer and died. That, along with the near approaching anniversary of the death of my younger brother in two weeks, I am particularly aware of being present in each moment and how this manifests itself in my “normal activities”…..”normal activities” being the usual, rather mundane things of every day.
You may be thinking (if you’ve read this far..), “Why is he writing about this on a business blog?” A fair question…

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FOCUS: How Do You Compare Awareness vs. A Noisy Internet?

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Awareness

Awareness

Moving from Awareness (I sometimes call it Discoverability…) to Reputation, and then to some kind of Economic Engagement (Sales, Donations, etc…) is a well-known path for many businesses.

The first stop on this journey is gaining Awareness of your business. Sadly, there are still a number of businesses who feel and act as though the best way to get attention is to YELL A LOT ONLINE! This number is shrinking, but they are still there. What the rest scatter into are versions of:
  • Semi-random posts based partly on the business and partly on when whomever is managing the online activity has time or interest to post something. Hence pages that will have four posts in one day, and then go 3 months before the next one.
  • A steady stream of “We’re Great! Everyone Says So!” and “Buy Our Stuff!“. These folks generally post a lot, and descend into “Internet Noise” pretty quickly…
  • The “Cats Rule the Internet” strategy, where a large number of posts are entertaining GIFs and Videos of Pets, People and Fun things, but without any balancing of content that’s valuable to the customer, except for those who find filling their day with looking at this kind of stuff valuable. May drive a l lot of traffic, but no business.
  • Patterns that ALMOST come together into a coherent plan, but lack the real strategy to make progress in their marketing and business goals. Sometimes the owner is a regular use of some channel like Facebook, and so knows kind of what others do, but hasn’t worked through how that looks for her business.
  • Some solid execution plans that are moving the needle for the business and producing value. These companies are intelligently investing in and leveraging digital/social media to MAKE MONEY.

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How Important is Unsurpassed Genuine Tenacious Persistence?

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Tenacious Persistence

Tenacious Persistence!

I am reminded of the role of tenacity this week.

Many kinds of dogged persistence crossed my path. In my business, I worked with several clients working through tough business problems. Despite the distraction of the holiday season, each is determined to make headway on each particular challenge. There have been some “stall points” along the way, thanks to old processes colliding with newer, better informed efforts. Nonetheless, each is steadfast in their desire to get the older processes and mindsets either altered to the newer ones, or discard them. This is not easy (particularly when older process are personified and actuated by existing team members who have “always done it that way, and it works kinda OK…”), but the little successes along the way are proving the value of the work, and provide the fuel for the tenacious spirit they display.

How Do You Focus To Listen?

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Listen-To-Understand

Listen-To-Understand

There is a budding resurgence taking place concerning the importance of Conversation in life and business. Not that a lot of the words aren’t just hanging out there, dissipating in the wind. A lot of businesses grab the “shiny thing” when it comes to the latest discussions and thinking around whatever can keep us growing, or at least “safe.” I still experience an enormous amount of Telling and Broadcasting instead of Conversation and Engagement, both online and off-line. Even conversation has numerous forks in the concept, the largest two seem to be “listening-to-reply” and “listening-to-understand.”
A few years ago I wrote an article about the abundance of LIKING-type behavior online in comparison to the actual conversation taking place. Businesses were still trying to figure out this new paradigm where the customers actually controlled the brand perceptions, and NOT the BRAND controlling them. Along with the immature capabilities for measuring real engagement and the misunderstanding surrounding the actual meaning and value of a LIKE or a FOLLOW or a “+1” meant that the definitions of success were too fuzzy, and likely incorrect.
Things are different now.

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GO DEEP: Can You See Your Genuine Story?

Photographer against a sunset

Photographer against a sunset

You already know about the requirement of posting Top Flight, Relevant, and Shareable content. You may even be working to make sure that you attach a photo or graphic to your posts, since people are attracted to pictures and tend to gloss over text-only posts.

Photos are even more important than you think!

In a recent article, Mark Schaefer listed out 15 Amazing ways social media is changing the world and the one that jumps out at me is that we now “talk” through photos. A photo or stream of photos is becoming an important mode of communication at the expense of text and voice. This assists those who are not sure of their communication skills, and takes advantage of the complex processing our brain goes through to interpret pictures.

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Now What?!

Every business hits this wall at some time.

Whether your just starting out, ALMOST to profitability, have a “going concern” or are well-established, sooner or later something either organic (like growth of your customer base) or externally realized (your top salesperson and top delivery person get married and move out of the state), “Now What?!” happens to you.

How do you respond?

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