I was watching a PBS special and there was author Richard Leider speaking on “The Power of Purpose.” In his presentation, he discussed the 4 roles he felt each person should have filled in their lives… a committed listener, a catalyst, a wise elder (at least 10 years older), and a wise younger (at least 10 years younger).
Most of us probably have at least one of the 4 roles filled and probably fill one or two roles in the lives of someone else. The part of it that struck me was the committed listener. Now in this media driven age, getting anyone to be a committed listener has become something of a glittered unicorn. I myself, at times become so disconnected that I’ve taken to requesting people notify me if I should pay attention. Not that I’m not paying attention but obviously, I’m not being a committed listener.
It’s not that what the person is saying isn’t important to me, not at all. The content of their discussion and they themselves are important, but we (I) are often inundated with so much information that it becomes quite difficult to determine what and when to sift. This self-inventory made me reflect on a conversation that I recently had with a friend. As you know, I’m funny about titles – which is why I had and still have such a hard time with FB’s “friends” label – but she is a friend and I realized, she had become a committed listener for me and I didn’t have to tell her pay attention.
It’s not often that I have to request people to tell me if I need to pay attention, only when I find they’ve been talking for an extended period of time or I find myself distracted. I believe in giving people my attention, particularly if they wish to discuss something that they have deemed important. It is important and they are important, so as with all ships, it takes a crew to make it operate efficiently. I met one of my wise elder’s during my undergrad years. She worked in Financial Aid (some of us have plenty of stories to tell from that office!) and to this day, she continues to help guide me. Initially, I didn’t particularly care for my wise younger, but now, I cannot imagine life without him. Catalyst is a bit tricky because I’m so picky. I tend to fill that role myself. The Committed Listener seemed to be the most important and that role can be difficult to fill as well. It is said that if you are the smartest person in your circle, you need to expand your circle quick. Thing is, expansion is difficult when prospects are few. I know of so many people that I encounter on a daily basis who employ uncommitted distractions as committed listeners. Like any position, it is important to screen applicants carefully. True, some people interview incredibly well and sometimes the luxury turns into a lemon. These are the trials of life but like the melon thump test, if you listen committedly, I’m sure the right candidate will present themselves.
Try it yourself. Do you have these roles filled in your life? If no, do you want them filled? If not, no need advertising if there isn’t a position available. No need to keep applications on file, that creates clutter. For those of you who follow my page, like my FB page, and in any other way support my efforts, I deeply thank you for being a committed listener. As always, there is one committed listener who can and does fill all 4 roles for some of us. During this Advent Season, I’m particularly glad and thankful for his mother, being the catalyst for my best committed listener.
What ails ya?