Continuing my series on the 7 principles of being gumptionable, today we’ll examine principle #3: Be determinedly Receptive.
Receptive is the ability to be interested, non-resistant, and open to others and their ideas. Forrest Gump demonstrated receptiveness throughout his life and it lead to opportunity after opportunity, financial success, personal happiness and peace-of-mind.
Determined is synonymous with guts, initiative, backbone, courage, daring and enterprise.
Here are 5 ways to be determinedly receptive.
1. Make the Choice
It may sound overly simplistic, but the first step to being determinedly receptive is to choose to be so. Don’t expect it to just happen, don’t expect that the next time you’re faced with an opportunity you’ll just naturally be open instead of rejecting it because of the usual mental opposition …It won’t work, it’s not for me, it will be too hard, yada-yada…
JL Huie says, “Joy is a choice – but it isn’t an easy choice”, and being receptive is no different. Being receptive takes guts.
Receptiveness is a skill, and the first step to embracing this key to success is deciding that you want to improve your skill at being receptive.
Are you willing to make this choice?
2. Ignore Your Instinct to Defend
We all like to think of ourselves as the smartest person in the room, so any new idea from another can’t be as good as the idea that we might think up. So what do we do? We defend our ideas, we defend our positions, we defend our points of view. The problem is we’re not actually hearing another’s idea or position when we’re defending. We’re stuck in our own status quo.
Being aware that we like to defend is the key to giving it up. Next time you’re in a meeting, watch how some people spend their time defending. Notice that they aren’t really listening … rather, they’re planning their comeback and defense. It’s actually quite hilarious once you start noticing. You’ll be amazed at how frequently it happens … sadly, all too often!
Are you determined to give up defending?
3. Hear First, Understand What You’re Hearing, Then Evaluate
The next step is to actually understand what the other person is saying. Really getting their message or point of view. Seeing the opportunity as it is being presented. Once you understand what they are saying, then (and only then) you begin the process of evaluating its merits. How will I benefit? What potential does the idea have?
Last week I participated in the Doug Stevenson Story Theater seminar. I received coaching on staying in the character, using and exaggerating the voice. I listened to the suggestions from both coach and fellow students. I heard and embraced their feedback. The next day, I re-thought what I heard and contrasted it to the approach I’ve been taking. What emerged was a combination of the new idea and the old approach. If I hadn’t allowed the new idea 24 hours to sink in, really be considered and accepted … then the blending of old and new would not have occurred.
Ideas take time to flesh themselves out. Understanding first is the key to effective evaluation. My mother always said, “Sleep on it … if it’s a good idea today, it will be a good idea when you wake up tomorrow morning”.
Do you allow yourself time to sleep on ideas before making a final decision?
4. Put Yourself in the Other Person’s Shoes
This step is really a repeat of steps 2 & 3. But it’s worth repeating because it makes implementing steps 2 & 3 that much easier. Give yourself the freedom to see ideas from the other person’s perspective. Try wearing their shoes.
Do you remember the scene in the movie when Forrest agrees to go into the shrimpin’ business with Bubba? By the time Bubba actually asked Forrest to be his partner, Forrest had already heard Bubba recite all the ways to cook shrimp. He knew all about Bubba’s family and their long history of shrimpin’. Forrest knew that Bubba’s mother and ancestors all worked in kitchens preparing shrimp. Forrest figuratively had walked in Bubba’s shoes.
Do you routinely try to see the other person’s point of view when hearing their proposal?
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
This step refers to the old joke about a man on the street approaching the famed pianist, Arthur Rubinstein, and asking for directions, “Pardon me, sir, how do I get to Carnegie Hall?“ and Rubinstein deadpans, “Practice, practice, practice.?” Of course to be determinedly receptive, you must practice. It’s a skill, it can be learned, you can get better and even very proficient at it.
Are you willing to practice determinedly? Are you willing to put the effort into becoming receptive?
Forrest Gump was just naturally receptive. Perhaps it was because of the child-like and simplistic way in which he viewed the world? Or maybe it was because of the genuine trust he had in others? Or possibly it was a great sense of intuition … an ability to know what was potentially beneficial and what was harmful?
A strategy for improving and making myself more receptive is necessary. Assuming you are like me, the 5 steps I outlined are designed to help you become more Gump-like and determinedly receptive.
Are you generally a receptive person? Do you regularly have opportunities appear right in front of you because of your non-resistance and openness?
Next Blog Title: Gump-portunity
Next Blog Date: November 8, 2010