The Prerequisite For Your Purpose-Filled Life

in Art of Listening, Cultivating Clarity


“Dad! Please stop working and listen to what I have to say,” Jill said with fierce determination.

In the Art of Listening we touched upon the root of our problem and how the violin (metaphorically speaking) could bridge the gap between our present reality and the life we deeply desire to know and experience.

Today, we’re going to dig a little deeper and discuss The Three Stages of Listening.

Stage One:

You’re physically there, but mentally and emotionally you’re in another world.

Real Life Example: Recall a time when your wife, daughter or son had something important to tell you, but as they talked, you surfed the internet, watched tv or kept doing your work? From your perspective, how do you think that conversation went? Now, how do you think your wife, son or daughter felt about this conversation?

  • Did they feel heard?
  • Did they feel like you were giving them your undivided attention?
  • Did they feel like they were important, valued, respected?

Perhaps, like Jill, they wanted nothing more than your presence and your listening ear. Why? Because you giving them your undivided attention shows that you care; that they matter to you.

However as I write this, I acknowledge that there are many times when my kids are telling me something important about their day, and, even though I’m physically there with them, my mind is a million miles away.

This leaves me thinking…

If you and I don’t fully show up for the key people in our lives, I wonder if we ever truly show up for ourselves? And if this is the case, perhaps this is a clue to why we can feel like we’re running on empty; why we feel lost in our own world.

Something to ponder.

Stage Two:

You’re in an intentional conversation with someone but you have an agenda.

Let’s be honest, we can excel at this one. This is all about showing up in a conversation because you have something you want the other person to hear.

Real Life Example: Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who was giving you their undivided attention, but they didn’t really want to hear what you had to say? In other words, as you were talking, the other person regularly interrupted you because they had something they wanted you to hear.

How did this make you feel?

  • Did you feel heard?
  • Did you feel respected and valued?
  • Did you feel that your thoughts, feelings and opinions mattered?
  • Did this conversation help bring clarity and connection?

If you’re honest with yourself, these first two stages of listening are what you experience most often in your life. This is the world you grew up in at school, church and home; and now today, you experience it at work and with your family. These two stages of listening have been well rehearsed, and to that end, you’re left with the gnawing pangs of emptiness and atrophy in your gut.

It’s what we can’t face that destroys us
what we can’t feel makes us bleed
unbind your secret shadow
find the brilliance you need

These words penned by Canadian singer/songwriter, Stephen Fearing, resonate with a deep, profound truth about the human condition. What if we are deaf and blind to our own needs and true desires because we have simply forgotten the art of listening? And maybe, we have forgotten this lost art because we’re afraid of what we might uncover in the depths of our soul. To this end, we keep running, projecting, fighting, escaping.

Stage Three:

You’re actively listening with no agenda, no judgement.

It’s in this space where all relationships thrive; whether it’s your relationship with yourself, with your wife and kids or your relationship with your team at work. Having someone fully show up and actively listen without judgement or agenda is what ignites our passion and fuels our dreams.

Real Life Example: Remember a time when someone, anyone, showed up in your day and actively listened to what you had to say. Maybe the conversation was focused around your feelings and thoughts about an issue at work. Perhaps you were sharing a dream or passion with this person. Whatever the conversation was about, remember this time and fully step into it; relive it in your memory and feel it in your body.

How did this conversation make you feel?

  • Did you feel heard?
  • Did you feel valued and respected?
  • Did you feel that your thoughts, ideas and feelings mattered?
  • Did this conversation help bring clarity and connection?

When we sit with another person and choose to actively listen without judgment, or an agenda, we create a space that cultivates clarity of purpose (what am I to do) and clarity of being (who am I).  In a nutshell, the art of listening nurtures clarity, connection and community.

If you desire to create a compelling future, in-other-words, write a brave, new story for your life, family and career, the lost art of listening must be learned and mastered. It is a prerequisite to experiencing a purpose-filled life.


To remember the The Three Stages of Listening think of AAA.

Stage 1: Absent. You’re in a conversation but your mind is a million miles away.
Stage 2: Agenda. Your conversation is driven by what you want the other to hear.
Stage 3: Attention. You’re actively listening without judgement or agenda.

Until next time…
Be You. Be Unitas.



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