Remember back in grade school, as early as kindergarten, when we were told to “listen to your teachers” or “listen to your parents.” We were taught at an early age that listening was important. If we did not listen, we knew that we would be in trouble.
This first direction “to listen” came from a place of authority. At a young age, we learn listening is something we do when we can’t be trusted to think on our own. Then, we get into our teenage years, the years when we start to separate from authority figures to carve out our own identities. We begin to recognize that our parents are not perfect and are not always right. We start to question what we are told. We learn that we do not always have to listen. We fight back as we make our own way in the world, believing that we know what is best and even at times of uncertainty, we learn that we can fake it so that we won’t appear weak. We stop listening.
We see this played out daily on the news. Our country, our world, has stopped listening.
While my initial purpose of embarking on the 50/50 Friendship Flow journey was to share with my girlfriends the meaning and the lessons that they have brought to my life – in the process, I gained the skill of listening.
I learned to look someone in the eye and hear what they were saying. By being intentional in my communication, I was able to dive deeper in my conversations. As I listened to my girlfriends, I learned so much more about who they are – which in turn, taught me about myself. The skill of active listening is something that I continued after my initial round of one-on-one dates with my girlfriends, which is detailed in my new book The 50/50 Friendship Flow: Life Lessons From and For My Girlfriends.
At the end of August 2020, I began to embark on my second #50/50friendshipflowchallenge. In the midst of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, during this second round of the challenge, I have chosen to meet 52 women through Zoom calls. I immediately noticed that my conversations have become more meaningful because of my awareness of the importance of active listening that has consistently improved through practice over time.
I invite you to join me in the #5050friendshipflowchallenge. Connect one-on-one with your friends to share the positive impact they have made in your life. By taking on this meaningful challenge yourself, you will discover everyone you meet is both your teacher and your student, the feelings of happiness and enrichment as you deepen your friendships, and the purpose and life lessons each person has brought into your life.
You will also practice and refine the skill of actively listening. You will quickly realize and feel the power that this practice brings to deepening your friendships and connections. You’ll gain a greater understanding of the world around you. When you learn someone’s story, titles wash away, and the human connection feels stronger than before. You learn that there is more behind having a difference of opinion. You are reminded that we all have the same fears, desires, and hope.