8 February 2016

Have you ever been told that you’re a great listener?

Being able to take time to hear someone’s ideas, issues and stories is, I believe, one of the most important qualities to bear – not only in business but as a person too.listening costs you nothing

I have shared many quotes and thoughts along the lines of us having “two ears and one mouth” – it is a sentiment that is echoed throughout some of the great thoughtleaders of our time. Tony Robbins speaks often of this analogy.

Currently, I am in the Maldives with my wife Gail. We come here every year to celebrate our anniversary, 14 years this year, and to stop and take stock. We set our goals, look back at the previous year and we look ahead at new lessons we can learn.

I always bring along my computer to keep up chess practise, along with plenty of reading material. This trip I am reading Sir Alex Ferguson’s book, Leading.

As I sit here in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, beside my wife and incredible business partner, it’s hard not to reflect on the key things I’ve learned in the year since we were last here, looking out at the Indian ocean.

Sir Alex Ferguson has long been someone who I look to learn from. The transferable lessons from sport to business are second to none. I believe that the two are so closely linked that it is common sense to look to sport to see how we can be better leaders and entrepreneurs. Being on the rugby pitch, the squash court and the track has taught me extraordinary lessons that translate perfectly into business; leadership is the most prevalent of these by a country mile.

Sir Alex, one of the greatest sporting leaders of our time, also relates to the ‘two ears, one mouth’ analogy. We have two eyes to watch, two ears to hear and one mouth to speak when needed. The best leaders are the listeners; the supportive type who genuinely care for the team as well as its success, not the demonstrative types that have a mouth far bigger than ears and eyes combined.

It is far too easy to miss what is going on around you if you’re too busy shouting over it all. We never know what is around the corner or over the next hill, and it is extraordinary just how much we can predict and prepare simply by listening and tuning into what is happening around you.

As Sir Alex says “listening costs you nothing.”

I’d love to know what you think.

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