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Sounding Boards…

By: Julie Escobar
 

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The Power of the Listening to the Right People Around You

By Julie Escobar

Years and years ago at a business retreat, I was fortunate enough to sit in on a session with an incredible speaker by the name of Art Fettig.  A soft-spoken and gentle man, it was interesting to watch him command absolute quiet in a room full of speakers, trainers and entrepreneurs.  It was even more interesting to listen in as he weaved his message into the stories he told and the inspired “nuggets” he so wished we’d take home, plant and let take root in our lives.

That day as we sat with long tables before us draped in heavy, white, starched linen tablecloths and sparkling water glasses before us¸ Art simply smiled and handed each one of us a tiny music box – well not a music box really.  Just the inner workings of a music box.   Like small children we all immediately started playing with our new toys – sending a fairly quiet and comical sound wave of tinkling, metallic music through our conference room.   He smiled again – now he was playing us.  He was setting the stage for us to hear – really hear what he wanted us to learn.

That day Art was there to talk about the importance of bringing your best self to the table every day – and to every opportunity.  Whether in a sales situation, on a stage in front of an audience of one, one thousand or ten thousand, or at home with your family – but he was charged with too – talking about the power of TEAMWORK, keeping the RIGHT people around you, and working  TOGETHER.  So what’s that got to do with the inside of a music box?

Ahhh…he was getting to that. First, he shared with us the value of learning your craft, honing your skills, believing in yourself and working – really working on being the best person you can be.   “Be careful though,” he added a reminder that success is a reward best shared as a team, with family and friends, mentors and protégés, teachers and students.  Sure, it’s wonderful, to hear your own triumphs – “toot your own horn” as it were – or in this case, play your own music.  He demonstrated for us. “Hold your music box high in the air and turn the knob,” he instructed.   We did, and once again the room was filled with a thin-sounding tinkle of tiny metallic bars tapping out their notes.  “Now,” he said, “do me a favor.  Lift the white table cloth in front of you and lay your music box down on the bare wooden table.  When I count to three I want you all to once again, turn the knobs on your music boxes while holding the box in place on the table.”  One, two…three.  WOW.  There was an explosion of synchronized music that seemed a hundred-fold louder than the lofty “in the air” version of our “concert.”  “Sounding boards,” Art explained, “give us the ability to be bigger, stronger, and bolder than we can ever be playing solo.  Whether they are teammates, colleagues, mentors or loved ones, treasure these people.  They have the ability to keep you grounded and allow you to hear what you NEED to hear.”

Talk about bringing a point home.  I’ve still got that little music box and I’ve still got the message in my heart and in my head.  I’m blessed to have many sounding boards in my life. Some for business, some for parenting, some for love and some for life and some who cross the plains of all of the above.  I appreciate that life is meant to be shared, the good stuff, the great stuff, the not-so-good stuff and even the crummy stuff.   The important thing to remember is to practice being both the sounding board and the music.  Make sure those who are listening to you – have someone who’s listening back.

Who’s YOUR sounding board? Call them up, write them a note, take them to lunch – in some way this day, and thank them for being that incredible element in your life.  It matters.

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