Listening with an Open, Positive Mindset

Today has been a full travel day for me, and I've spent it listening to the audio-book version of Know Can Do!: Put Your Know-How Into Action By Ken Blanchard, Paul J Meyer, Dick Ruhe.

From the publisher's description of it,

Know Can Do! is a teaching parable in the tradition of Ken Blanchard's
bestselling business books. It tells the story of a well known author
who is troubled by the gap between what people know: all the good
advice they've digested intellectually from books and seminars, and
what they actually do. Seeking a way to close this learning-doing gap,
the author sets out on a journey to find a solution. He soon meets a
legendary businessman named Carl Hesse, who has discovered the secrets
of putting knowledge into action. Carl teaches the author the three
reasons people don't make the leap from knowing to doing and The key to
overcoming these roadblocks.

One of the three reasons/roadblocks is something the authors call negative filtering, and they explain why (in their view) most of us will first receive new ideas from others through a negative default that we get from a young age. Whether or not you agree with that tendency toward the negative first, I do like the anecdote they offer to combat this tendency: "Listening with an open, positive mindset."

Here are the pointers they describe as this type of listening:


~ with no prejudice or preconceived ideas

~ with a learning attitude that is excited about new information

~ with positive expectancy

~ with a pen in hand for taking notes

~ with a desire to not only learn what is being said, but what it can trigger in your imagination, and

~ with a "How can I use this?" attitude.

In particular I like that phrase of positive expectancy, for it is an assumption very much in harmony with aloha, and the expectation that others have such bountiful good to offer us. It is that good that we should listen for, trusting that it is there to be discovered.

The key thesis of the book is that spaced repetition of focused learning (a "less is more" approach versus information gluttony) is the trick to our retaining what we learn, converting our learning into actions made personally sticky and inculcated into company cultures.

In the spirit of the book's coaching, this way to listen will be one of my choices for "spaced repetition" for I can see how powerful this discipline with learning can be: It can help you become a possibility thinker and one who creates continually.

Everyone loves a good listener, but beyond being polite and respectful we can truly have a sincerely curious and fascinated interest in others, an interest groomed by this positive expectancy that we can always learn something from every conversation we have.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For more on the wonder of positive thinking, visit the archives for Believe in your Biology!


  1. says

    Karl, I’ll be doing a full review of this book for our Trackback Sunday this week connected to Joyful Jubilant Learning. The book is a keeper precisely for that angle on learning retention it offers, and it definitely has made an impression on me.

  2. says

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  3. says

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  6. says

    Who’s doing the thinking right now, and what do they have to say?

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