If you listen, while others are talking, you will almost always learn something
When our kids were old enough to prioritize and young enough for my wife and I to exercise our influence over them, we simplified our parenting instructions down to one absolute order.
Listen to mom and dad.
For years, that is all we ever really asked of them. We figured that the best thing we could do for them was to set an example, through our actions and words, that incorporated as many tools that they were capable of understanding and using at an early age. Our objective was to provide them with enough structure and direction to begin to develop their own decision-making skills at an early age so that they would be prepared to make good decisions as they got older.
As much as I now wish that we would have added a work schedule so that they were also doing chores before they were old enough to find excuses not to do them, teaching them to listen, observe, and pay attention when we did proved to have been worthwhile for us and for them.
In fact, if (like me) you subscribe to the theory that there is always a price to pay; you might also agree that paying attention is one of the most inexpensive, but valuable investments you can make.
If you listen, while others are talking, you will almost always learn something without unnecessarily giving away your own thoughts.
If you watch, while others are acting, you will see an example of how to or how not to act in that situation.
If you remain alert to your surroundings, you are far less likely to experience an unwanted surprise.
Conversely, if you do not pay attention, the price you pay could be substantial.
If you drive while not paying attention, you may end up in an accident.
If your teacher springs a pop quiz on you and you weren’t listening in class, you’re probably not going to get a very good grade on that quiz.
The price that you pay for the decisions you make, the experiences you enjoy or suffer through, and the results that you either achieve or fall short of can be remitted in a variety of ways.
Sometimes that price is real money that you either gain or lose. Other times, you might pay that price in the form of physical exertion or the use of millions of brain cells. Either way, every step you take and every lesson you learn costs you something and there is no guarantee that the price you pay equals whatever it is that you receive when you pay that price.
What is guaranteed, however, is that the price that you pay will be more in line with your expectations when you are making decisions based on what you have learned and experienced along your path in life. If you set a goal and then prepare to achieve that goal through a thorough understanding of what it will take to reach your desired result, you will get about as close as possible to ensuring that the price you pay is worth the reward you seek.
If you learn those skills through paying attention and being alert to your surroundings and situations, then I think we can agree that a small investment of your time and attention will pay substantial dividends to you for the rest of your life. The earlier you make this investment, the more dividends you will earn.
This article is part of Scott Arney's educational series, entitled The Serial Decision Maker.