Reflections from The Listener

Do you think Mo Farah is hurting during the last 300 metres of any race he is in? Do you think the other runners are also hurting? Yet he wins more races.

Mo came up in conversation with my good friend, Guy Ellis recently, as a metaphor for much of what we do in life.

It got me thinking and wondering.

Mo did not just wake up that morning and decide to take place in a serious race and expect to not just compete but to win it as well.

This is the culmination of everything he has done in his life, including his physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects. It also takes time, lots of time, his daily habits, getting up on those days when he does not feel like it, continuing on those days when he fails, pushing through the pain on those days when he falls, and breathing in the joy on those days when everything just flows.

It reminds me of the plumber who is asked to fix a block in a tank, and he spends one minute looking and thinking, then hits the tank once with his hammer, and the block is cleared. He charges £100. On questioned about why one hit of his hammer costs £100 he replies, that it costs £1 to make the hit, and £99 to know exactly where to make the hit.

For me as The Listener, this applies to me too.

When I ask a Cashier or the Barista, “How are you today?” One might share with me that she is not great, her boyfriend is making her life difficult since they broke up and how the Police are now involved. Another might smile warmly, (it feels as though he has asked the same question many times that day and the majority have not bothered to answer, and I am the first to ask him how he is), chat to me about his day and then tells me that my coffee is, “On the house”.

What is going on?

It can’t be just my words, although they help, of course, but it is my intention to want to know, the openness of my posture, my eyes looking at his, the honesty in my voice, the curiosity of the tone, and so much more.  They feel it and deep down notice it, and that makes the words sound and feel different to them at that moment.

It is not me doing listening it is me being a listener.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  Chinese philosopher Laozi c604 BC

How will you begin your listening journey?

What can you do more of today….be curious, be attentive, be present?

Colin is also known as ‘The Listener’, a listening skills specialist and the ‘go-to’ person for individuals, teams and organisations, who want to be heard, think smarter, and transform their business and personal relationships through active listening. Contact him at or find out more at

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