We Are What We’ve Heard (Issue 1010)

In which we are reminded that, to continue developing, we need to listen more widely.

As humans, ‘we are what we eat’ (and, yes, I  know, that’s a very broad statement).  As musicians, we are what we’ve heard.

When I was inspired at the age of 12 to play the guitar, I took a couple of lessons after which I chose to teach myself,  playing by ear. Since, at that point, I couldn’t hang out for hours and hours in bars, coffee houses, or jam sessions voraciously soaking up dozens of other musicians’ ideas and techniques, I listened to recorded music.

I started out imitating Paul Stookey and Peter Yarrow. Later, the Carter Family and Pete Seeger and George Harrison and Doc Watson and Leo Kottke and John Phillip Sousa and Johann Sebastian Bach and various Christmas carols…[“Joy To the World” is a particular favorite]. The list goes on.

Some I chose to listen to. Some I heard by happenstance.  The more people I heard,  the more things I tried and, over time, they fused together  into a “Nick” comfort zone – a style and a repertoire. I enjoyed what I played, I developed some modest early success in performing,  yet, as I took on more work and family commitments, at some point, I stopped listening to others.

As a musician,  I am what I heard up to the point I stopped listening.

In the professional sales world, while some of us experienced extensive, formal  (what I’ll call ‘classical’) business development training supported by great coaches, the rest of us had one or two lessons following which we (largely) taught ourselves, learning by listening to others and imitating and adapting what we heard. Maybe we had one or two mentors who helped.

But, most of us didn’t have the time or opportunity to joint call with and observe dozens of capable colleagues in multiple venues, voraciously soaking up their ideas and techniques. We heard a few and, over time, we fused them together with our own experiences and, voila!  Our sales  comfort zones  and styles emerged, our repertoires. And, yes, sorry, WE, too, are limited… we are, as professionals, what WE have heard (or are hearing if we are continuing to listen to podcasts or read books or participate in training).

In order to develop more, to broaden our repertoires, to learn new riffs, we need to hear (or read) more – more variety, more intentionally, and more often.

Nick Miller and Clarity train banks and bankers to attract and develop deeper relationships with small businesses. Many more Sales Thoughts like this and a host of other articles and resources at https://clarityadvantage.com/knowledge-center/ .

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