“Tell me the truth now, Cammie Boy. Have you ever listened in on another person’s conversation? Let’s say you’re standing in line at Starbucks, minding your own business, and there’s a couple behind you in line having a little tiff about something or other; his mother, her aerobics instructor, something like that. Tell me that you’re not going to listen in.”
Cam shrugged. “Yeah, I am.”
“Good! Of course you would. Everyone would! You know why? We’re interested in the drama of humanity, especially dramas we’re not supposed to know anything about. We love those little windows into others’ lives. So, I say this: eavesdrop away! We do it anyway, so why not make it a habit and a practice, and listen in with conscious intent?”
“Say what?” I chirped.
“Oh relax, Farberoosky. I’m not talking about buggin’ peoples’ offices or anything like that. This is nothin’ more than paying attention to what other people are talkin’ about. Hell, listening to talk radio is a form of eavesdropping, ain’t it? Tune in to both right and left-wing shows and you’ll pret- ty much be listening in on an entire national conversation. Scan and eavesdrop are basically just lookin’ and listenin’. Consider yourself both a scanner and a microphone. Again, you’re not making any judgments on what you’re seeing or hearing, just collectin’ the data that’s coming to you.
“Okay, now, the next thing you do is…” Smitty paused and looked at Cam until he got the nonverbal message, picked up his pen, and wrote a nice, clean number four in his evolving WUP. “… Ponder. After collecting your observations for a while you stop, read it over, and give it some reflection. What are the implications of this? What can I learn from that? Why are so many people doing X, and what might that mean for all of us?
“For example, why are so many people watching reality TV? And why doesn’t anyone seem to notice that the phrase reality TV is the ultimate oxymoron? Or maybe one day you were royally ticked off because you were tryin’ to do some work on your vacation, but you couldn’t get your laptop to connect. So, you had jotted down a note in your WUP that said something like I can’t find a flippin’ WiFi connection when I really need one. So now you ask the question, what are the implications of anytime, anywhere broadband Internet connections and what’s that gonna mean for the way we should sell mortgages in the near future? Now, you don’t just ask the questions, you think about the answers. We don’t give ourselves nearly enough time to reflect. We think we don’t have time. But I’m telling you, if all you’re doin’ is reacting to things rather than giving yourself the time to ponder, you’re gonna be left in the dust without any new ideas. And you certainly won’t be leadin’ the pack, right, Buck?
“So you see what’s starting to happen here, boys?” Smitty was making sure that Cam wasn’t the only one hearing the message. “You’re observing, processing, interpreting, massaging, and playing with your experience of the human drama—or comedy, more likely—and encouraging your brain to look for new, clear insights which will lead, eventually, to new ways of doing things in your business and in your life.”
Cam was actually nodding his head. “It’s a brain-storming tool,” he said.
“Yeah, think of it that way at first, if you want. Whatever it takes to get you to do it is just fine with me,” Smitty chortled and winked at me.
I winked back, but I didn’t know why.
[Note: I’m excited to share my second book, The Radical Edge, in serial fashion here on SteveFarber.com! We’ll post one installment a week until the very end of the book. You can go back and read from the beginning here. If you ever get impatient and want to scarf the whole thing down at once, you can always just pop over to Amazon and satiate yourself.]