You know how the old mainstream story goes. You are born, go to school, pick a career path or not, get married, raise a family, hopefully, send them off to college, retire, finally travel, grow old and die. Many people follow this script.
If you are like me, that script had very little appeal by the time I was ready to leave home. I guess this is also why acting has never held an appeal to me either. I write how I live, I do it my way.
They say life has lessons for us. I believe that is true and is evident all around us, especially when faced with crisis, heartache and loss.
So many people just live on the surface of their lives. Never really questioning the pain, the choices they make, the connections they make and break, or their disabilities and limitations.
I was born curious. As a kid, I asked a lot of questions…I mean a lot! So much so my mother told it was rude to ask people so many questions, so I stopped. I didn’t want to be rude.
Much later on in adulthood, I discovered that what she told me just wasn’t true. People actually think it’s rude if you don’t ask them questions about themselves. They think you don’t care enough about them to ask!
Life Lesson #1 People love to talk about themselves. Especially in a world full of cell phone users, active listening is a lost art. I know this to be true because I have built a career on listening to others.
So, once I figured out the “it’s rude to ask questions” fubar…I started to explore this false belief that my mother had passed on to me that had unconsciously changed all my future relationships with others.
Don’t laugh but I actually took a course once that taught active listening. You know the kind of listening where you ask a question and really listen to their answer. That takes skill. To hear the answer as it was meant to be implied AND repeat it back to assure you heard correctly. It took some practice but I got the hang of it…eventually. There is no shame in learning a new skill.
I guess that is also why books like How to Win Friends and Influence People (by Dale Carnegie) came to be written. It teaches the art of active listening and has been so popular since it was first published in 1936 that has over 30 million readers learning how to ask the right questions and get people talking about themselves. Definitely a book I enjoyed.
I am glad I bothered to go deeper and explore this common false statement that children are told it is rude to ask questions instead of “Not now honey”, or “I don’t know why this or that” or even, “If they want you to know they will tell you” all of which is what I tell my own children.
Nowadays, what I love about the journey so far is that I am right back to the start. I have come full circle back to the person I truly BE.
Bless her heart, my mother probably meant well all those years ago, but I returned to be the lover of the question. It is most likely why I love podcasts so much and YouTube videos that teach something, Ellen shows and Oprah. It has given me the idea to start my own podcast and run summits where I get to interview people…oh, heaven! I love that the question is the key to unlock a thoughtful answer. I love hearing the stories that reside in the hearts of people that I get a chance to talk to and learn from and listen to…really listen to. There is gold in their stories and much to be learned. There is love and loss, there is suffering and sadness, but there is hope and triumph too.
I have finally overcome my fear of offending people by asking questions and that has made all the difference to the little girl within who was just dying to ask.
People’s stories inspire me to dig deeper into myself, ask myself questions and sit quietly waiting for the answers to surface.
That is where all the juiciness is, contained within, waiting for someone to come and ask…”what do you think?”
So, what do YOU think?