THE QUESTION OF WHY

by Anna Walker


SUBSTANCE

Life is filled with the questions like what, when, how, and where. What do I want out of life? when will change happen? how much do I need to invest to get the result I want? Over the years, I have asked myself these questions time and time again.

On my quest for clarity and purpose, I found Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why on a Ted Talk video. He asks the question, why are others able to achieve things that defy assumptions? He discovered a pattern of thinking, behavior, and action of successful people.  It is explained by "The Golden Circle" of What, How and Why.  He purports that we all know what we do and how we do it, but few know why. Why do I exist, why do I believe what I believe? Inspired leaders all think, act, and communicate from the inside out-getting to the heart of the matter of why.

This concept resonated with me. How strongly do I believe in WHY I do what I do? Does my belief in who I am and why I do what I do resonate with others? I know that I am a sum total of my values, choices, environment, relationships, etc., but do others believe in me to the degree that I believe in myself? 

This week, I encourage you to write down what you believe about yourself, your life, your purpose. As Oprah says, "what I know for sure". Does your life answer the question of why?


"BE BETTER"

by Anna Walker


SUBSTANCE

On Tuesday, June 14, First lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey had a discussion on Trailblazing the Path for the Next Generation of Women during the White House Summit on the United State of Women in Washington. First lady Michelle encouraged the men in the audience to "Be better...Be better at everything."

I absolutely love this! It is a simple motivation that causes a shift in my thinking and doing. One of my motivational quotes is, "When you know better, do better" by Maya Angelou. To BE BETTER is all encompassing. To capsulize: Know better.Do better. Be better.

Being better is a choice. A choice to my maximize potential, a choice to live life intentionally and according to my purpose, and a choice to be excellent. Becoming The Total You has been a personal quest of mine. I can't teach people to become unless I become. I can't motivate others to be better unless I endeavor to be better. 

This week, I encourage you to choose something and be better at it.  A better wife, a better friend, a better co-worker, a better leader, a better listener, better at organizing, better at doing what you love. No one is perfect, but we can all BE BETTER.


ARE YOU LISTENING?

by Anna Walker


Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.
— Stephen R. Covey

SUBSTANCE

Recent studies show that women speak about 20,000 words per day. I believe that number varies based on environment, career, temperament, sociability, etc. However, when we speak to one another, do we really LISTEN? I've learned that true listening is a skill. It involves putting our own thoughts, agendas, judgments, and pre-conceived notions aside. It also requires real focus on the other person with a desire to truly understand not only what they are saying, but also what they are not saying.

Remember the old Charlie Brown cartoon series where adults only spoke in"mwa-mwa-mwa"? Many times when others speak, this is all we are hearing because we are not actively listening. We can't listen and multi-task. Inevitably, we miss key elements of the conversation.

One main area I'm working on is trying not to finish someone else's sentence. I think I know what they are going to say, so I just help them out! Many times, I'm wrong and decide to just be quiet. Listening requires patience. What about the slow talker? sometimes brutal to listen to, but truly listening to them can actually slow me down. And the word whisperer? Those are the ones who want you to lean in to hear every word. Not so easy to listen to with background noise, but also a real test of skill. Lastly, what about the runaway train? able to transition to five topics in about a minute. Listening to this person actually energizes me because it's like a brain game to keep up! 

So this week, I challenge you to test your listening skills to see how well you listen. Be conscious of these five things:

1. Focus on the person speaking.

2. Stay in tune with them regardless of their speaking speed, detail or subject matter.

3. Remain in the moment while they speak.

4. Don't interrupt.

5. Stop what you are doing long enough to really get the gist of what they are saying.

If you truly learn these skills, no one will ever have to ask, are you listening?