Stop; Look; and Listen
On many a rural road, there is a lonely rail road crossing marked by an X sign with the words, "Stop, Look and Listen" written on them. Most times, there is nothing to see or hear as few trains come by. But when one does, it can crush anything on the tracks.
The message on the sign can be a slogan for our own times. In our busy lives, we can get caught up in events, reacting to situations, and unable to relax enough to learn anything new. Under the crush of work, many of us find ourselves narrowing our focus till we are living in a small bubble of work, eat, and sleep. In many cases, we do better if we stop, look, and listen.
The world changes around us. Markets change. Competitors jump in. Financial situations change. Customers keep asking for more. And in our dynamic, capitalistic society, changes bring in new ideas and new people. If we just react, we will be always "behind the curve". We want to be able to see ahead of the current crisis. It takes effort to see where things are headed and to act decisively in the correct way.
In order to see ahead, we need to clear our minds of the day-to-day issues and see the things that we are not seeing now. The problem is that when we look around us, we always filter what we see. We use our expectations to block out stuff and thus, can miss the signs that the world is significantly changing underneath our feet.
We need to stop seeing what we expect; look and see the things that we have overlooked, and listen to the voices that we have blocked out earlier.
This stopping can be hard but profound. But when we stop, we have the opportunity to reexamine and reorder our priorities. Our priorities change. Our markets change. Our worlds change. It can be time to stop and see all these changes.
Often, we need to step outside of our bubbles and see both what life is like for others, and see how our efforts fit in the grand scheme of life. Some people visit areas of poverty. Others step outside of their usual social and business groups and interact with other groups within their city.
There are many other voices out there. Many such voices are from groups that could be future markets. Some voices want to point out that living in our small work bubble has shrunk our lives to the point where we might be diminishing who we are. The writer Dickens used the Ghost of Christmas Past to try to point out how far Scrooge had fallen. Sometimes, we need to remember how far down we have come in our pursuit.
We take time out to listen in order to refocus our lives and our businesses. We can then restructure work, change how we deal with customers, and set ourselves up for success - a success that we would not have been able to reach without stopping.
When we stop, look, and listen, we can be reminded of our deepest values, reconnect with ourselves and our own humanity, and reclaim a vital part of life.