The Value of Listening

Large Ears Listening on Elhers Deer

I often talk about values and that’s because to me, they’re enormously important.  Everyone has values, if you don’t know what yours are, why not create your list? Once you’re in the flow, you’ll find you continue to add things to it!  One very important value to me is listening and I’ll tell you why a little later, but first, a small story!  For more on my values, read this previous blog here.

Did You Know I Morris Dance?

I started Morris dancing back in 1975 and did it religiously, it was a real passion of mine.  However, a few years ago, the team that I was dancing with packed up and stopped dancing – mainly because a lot of the dancers were getting older (I was one of the youngest!).  So, I stopped.  Then, I acquired a new client in the Autumn, an ex-squire of the Morris Ring of England.  He inspired me to take up Morris dancing again, so I did. 

Last Friday was my third, energetic session!  I might not leap as high as I used to – but I’m managing ok!  The dance sessions last for two hours and then afterwards, there’s an opportunity to socialise.  So, on Friday, I went to the pub, after the dancing session and it was a real novelty because like so many people, I hadn’t been to a pub for over a year.

Conversations Out of My Bubble

It struck me that we’ve all been living in our own bubbles for 12 months or so.  I had a really fantastic time at the pub; it was great to get out and about and talk to people with different perspectives on life and different values too.  It made for some interesting conversation.  One of my Morris dancing peers said to me that I couldn’t be much of a financial advisor if I was still working at the age of 72!  He continued by saying that he hated what he had done for a living, made his £1 million and got out of it as soon as he could!  Of course, that got me thinking.  Yes, I could have stopped working years ago but unlike him, I love what I do.  I love doing my best for people and helping them and I’m recognised for that.  I don’t see what I do as work – I see it as a vocation.  The conversation didn’t go much further because the man in question didn’t stay to listen to my take on it.

Then, I got into conversation with another man, he was around 40 years old, and I knew his father, a retired vicar.  We had a good half an hour natter, I asked how his father was (at the age of 80, he is no longer working fully but he still conducts regular sermons).  The man told me that his father loved delivering his sermons because it was a joy to him.  I know that feeling… He also told me that his congregants called his father the Red Vicar, due to his socialist views!  In fact, he cited a passage from the bible about when money lenders were cast out of the temple, so it was fair and equal for all.  The Red Vicar preaches from the pulpit about fairness for all, even though the Church of England could be called Conservative (with a small C!).  I thought that there were some similarities to me there. I am happy to stick my neck out and say when I think something’s wrong, I want people to have honest, good, financial advice to improve their lives and it’s not just a business for me to make loads of money. I might be earning a living but that’s not the key purpose, despite what others might think.  

As it so happens, six weeks ago I had an offer of £960,000 for my business.  Just like the other Morris dancer, I could have packed my million quid and got out, but I love what I do.  I’m not about to flog my clients to the highest bidder because I have a different set of values to him.

Socialising is Important

When I’m socialising, I have a rule – I don’t want to be the bore who talks about work!  I often get people approaching me about their finances when I’ve switched off from work.  Another guy asked me about his pension last Friday at the pub, but I told him to call me on Monday instead.  I just don’t like mixing work with pleasure, and I had forgotten how much I needed that social interaction. It was a real release and I’ve learnt (through listening of course!) that people come to you far more easily than if you push yourself on them, because they’ve been listening too.

The bottom line is, getting out reminded me that it’s time to break away from our bubbles now and talk to people but more importantly, listen.  Over the years, I’ve learnt so much just from listening – someone once said, you’ve got two ideas and one mouth, use them in that proportion and learn by listening before talking.  Listening leads to learning.

Anyway, as well as listening (achy ears!), I also had aching legs on Saturday morning after my Morris dancing leaps and jumps but it has done me the world of good, physically and mentally.  This week, I’m encouraging all of you to make a mental note to listen more, digest and note what you learn from the art of conversation.

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