I’ve written in the past about the art and power of active listening. It’s one of those practices, especially when you pair it with some natural curiosity, that opens doors to so many opportunities. But what happens when, as you’re listening, someone shares with you an area where you need to do some work? What if all that listening leads down a path to a place where you have a weakness?

This happened to me twice yesterday. As serendipity would have it, I had two separate conversations that led to the exact same fork in the road – to that area where I have some work to do. There was no connection between the two people I was talking to. The only common ground between the two was me, and they were both seeing the same gap in how I was showing up to life.

I’ll be honest…

In both cases, I found myself getting immediately defensive.

I caught myself creating excuses.

I looked for ways to deflect responsibility and protect myself.

“Yeah, but…”

It wasn’t until I dropped my guard and got humble that I could receive the gift I was being given. Although they felt like hard right hooks, those jabs I was feeling were being delivered as gently as possible. The only thing that was going to be bruised at the end of the day was going to be my ego. Everything else would be left intact.

So here I sit, wrestling with an area in my life where I am weak, pondering how I am going to change that. I know what I need to do and how I need to show up. Now, I just need to take some action and do the work. 

My point in sharing this is to remind each of you to allow yourself some room for vulnerability and tough conversations. We talked about this in Episode 5 of the Grit Meets Growth podcast. I’ll tell you, tapping into that vulnerability isn’t easy. Yesterday, as I was being gifted these unbleached assessments of where I’m at, it sucked. Bad. 

Today, the bruises are still there, but I am looking forward – not backward. I am going to take the fruits of my active listening and do something with them. And, I am going to reach back out to both of those individuals who beat me up yesterday to say thank you.

The Takeaway

Be that active listener. Make room for the tough conversations, dig into the hard stuff, and do it with an open mind that’s prepared to get a little beat up in the process. The result? You will grow and be better on the other side – as long as you control your ego and can see through your excuses.

I hope this blog helps you get there. Follow me here for weekly growth-focused insights.

As I shared above, this conversation about tough conversations and listening well continues on the Grit Meets Growth podcast that I share with Chris Cathers. It’s available here or on your favorite podcast platforms.

Make it a great day! – John