Each month I put together a newsletter for our Boomer Best U community. I’m working on our 6th issue this week. What I enjoy most about this project is getting to interview people for our feature story. I thought I knew some of the people I’ve interviewed until I actually listened to their stories – or at least to the stories they chose to share. Everyone has a story. I also believe every person’s story matters.
I Assumed I Knew More Than I Did
Our first issue was in April. It featured Susan Rochester. Because Susan is a friend and I thought I knew her fairly well, I assumed I knew more than I did. I asked her to tell me about a significant visual communication project she’s been working on related to border crossings. I thought I had understood her project, but once I really listened, I realized it was far bigger and more significant than I had realized. I also learned how Susan’s own background and experiences had influenced her project. Now I can only marvel at the work she is doing.
Listening Is Not a Passive Activity
To really ‘listen’ to someone—whether face-to-face or through a mediated form of communication takes focus. It means I’ve got to push other distractions out of my mind and rediscover a sense of curiosity and wonder.
When someone shares something that doesn’t make sense, I need to ask questions. If someone doesn’t give me enough detail so that I have a clear picture of what they are telling me, I need to probe a bit more. Even if I think I understand what the other person is saying, I still need to check my understanding by giving the other person a chance to further clarify what they meant to communicate.
Every Person’s Story Matters
I taught listening classes for several years, but now how often I didn’t take the time to really listen in a way that allowed others to share what really mattered in their lives. I suppose I felt overwhelmed much of time—like my life was a race against the clock—it rarely felt like there were enough hours in the day to do everything I felt I needed to do. It takes time to listen to what matters to people.
I no longer work fulltime. I don’t feel like my life is pulled in a hundred different directions. I don’t want to ever be in a position again where life is so busy that I miss what is really important. Every person has a story and every person’s story matters.
Even if someone doesn’t ask you about your story, each one of us has a story to tell. I’d encourage you to keep a diary or write stories about your life. Include some periods that were turning points for you. Talk about your successes and challenges. Share things that have been important to you. Talk about lessons you have learned, including ones you have had to re-learn. Share things that you want to leave with people who will come after you.
Stories that are Inspiring and Encouraging
Having an opportunity to learn about other people’s stories is an honor. As others have shared parts of their lives, I’ve been inspired and encouraged. I trust that those of you who have read some of these stories feel the same way. If you missed any of these stories, you might want to check them out:
August 2019 newsletter– Read about David Reeck, a man who is improving lives and the environment while applying his expertise and keeping on the move.
July 15 2019 newsletter – Our July feature story is about NiAodagain, a woman who took early retirement to follow her passion. Now she has some great news to share.
June 2019 Newsletter – Read about Jasmine Sitt, a woman who says she plans to keep working until she is about 85. Friends from her native country call her a little giant.
May 15 2019 Newsletter – Our feature story this month is about Charles Young, a man who is as passionate about the outdoors as he is about history.
April 15 2019 Newsletter – Learn how artist Susan Rochester is using a powerful form of visual communication to help bridge borders. This story is inspiring.
If you haven’t already subscribed to our newsletter, you can do it now so that you won’t miss any of our future issues. Our September issue will feature Betty Tamm, the owner of Triple Oak Wine Vault and an active community leader. Subscribe to Boomer Best U Newsletter