Unleashing Genius

As well as being a poet Paul David Walker has been coaching the leaders of Fortune 500 and mid-size companies for over twenty-five years. In this uniquely poetic book about the secrets of great leaders, Paul reveals some of the deeper principles behind creating new realities, which Paul believes is the job of a leader. He takes you on a journey into the heart and mystery of leadership forming a foundation for any leader to become truly great.

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Storms and Clearings

The stream of poetry in this special book flows back over four decades of Paul's life journey. These beautiful and timeless poems reflect his uncanny ability to see the beauty in everyone and everything, as well as the deeply felt concern for the human condition. His words will at times strike a gentle cord, and at other times strike like lightning.

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A Glimpse into the Universe as I See It

In this beautiful collection of poems, Paul takes us on a journey of his "glimpses" into the creative intelligence behind the universe through his own eyes and heart. He captures with deep simplicity our experience as human beings on this planet as we seek to transcend our self, and collective, limitations. It has been said that awareness comes in the gaps between the thoughts of our way-too-busy minds. Paul inspires us and encourages us to pay attention to the glimpses found in those gaps. Enjoy the journey!

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What Are You Listening For?

As a leader, what you do not hear or misinterpret can be the difference between success and failure. As a sales person, or in relationships, the same is true. Listening to what people are actually saying is the starting point of every successful interaction. Not understanding what someone is saying is like giving someone directions to your office before you know their present location.

As a CEO Coach and business advisor, I have learned many lessons about listening. I am excited to share some of those with you today. After hearing the lessons, the most important thing for you to do is practice. So I will also provide some exercises to develop your listening skills.

Listening to Tell Your Story

I found that in sales situations I tended to listen only enough to start constructing my story, or sales pitch, in my mind. I would even start taking notes, outlining my response before the client had finished talking. Worse yet, I was deciding which of our standard programs I was going to pitch. I was an excellent leadership consultant, but my sales effectiveness was weak. After listening to my sales approach, my partner suggested a three-day sales and listening course.

One of the first “don’ts” was listening to tell your story, which they explained is the first mistake of all bad listeners. Typical stories were: listening to…

1. Develop an answer … bingo!

2. To be right about your view

3. To tell your story

4. To judge the speaker’s story

5. Thinking about something else

6. Thinking you already know

7. Thinking about your next meeting

I was guilty of many of these bad habits. The fact that I was processing in my mind while the person was speaking prevented me from hearing their entire story, and so my responses were never on target. The lesson was: don’t think while you are doing intake.

Content is Only 7% of the Story

The meeting leader then asked: once you are not processing while you are doing intake, what are you listening for? If you are listening for content only, then you are missing most of the message. Studies have shown that only seven percent of the message is in the words or content. Thirty-three percent is in the vocal tone, and the balance is non- verbal’s.

In addition, people who are talking to you are struggling to communicate something they may not fully understand themselves. They may be repeating themselves to find just the right way to say something. So, in addition to not processing, I had to learn how to listen beyond words.

Connection and Rapport

I found that if you learn to intake the entire message, and listen beyond words, your level of rapport goes up dramatically. Most people do not listen well, and so when you do, you connect with people at a deep level and they feel heard. One of my clients said, “The main reason I work with you is because you hear me.”

In real estate there are three things that are important: location, location and location. In leadership, selling and life, the three most important things are: rapport, rapport and rapport. If you fall out of rapport and start telling your story, you won’t be heard and worse yet, you may be distrusted. No one likes to be sold to. Establish rapport and keep it before you present your story or service.

Integrative Presence

The instructor said that the simple summary of this course is that you have to be totally present while listening and you will naturally integrate everything. After three days of the course, I had a sales call with a CEO, so I decided to practice my new approach. When I walked into the office, since I was totally present, I could see both the CEO and the SVP of HR were in a bad mood. They said to me, “How are you doing?” I told them that I was stressed after driving in LA traffic. They laughed, expecting the standard “I am great answer.” They proceeded to tell be about the events that led to their lousy mood, and we laughed together. The CEO said in jest, “So we all agree that life is crap, at least today.” We were clearly in rapport.

I then introduced myself and asked him to tell me a little bit about his situation and why he had called. I then put all my thoughts away and a felt present as I listened to his story for about ten minutes. When he seemed to be finished, I asked if there was anything else. He went on for another five minutes, and then said, “How could you help us?”

I paused and then said, as my teacher had suggested, the first thing that came into my mind, which was a summary of what I had heard instead of my solution. He was visibly shaken and said, “I had not thought of that, but you are exactly right!” I had heard something he had not fully understood. He went on to tell the HR SVP to have me talk to all his staff. When I explained that I would have to charge him, he said, “You two work it out, but I want you to hear what my team has to say. I achieved rapport, “Integrative Presence,” and heard beyond his words.

That year I won the Sales Leader of the Year Award for our Leadership Consulting firm. The lesson here is that you do not have to consciously process your answers. If you do full intake, your brain is able to synthesize and say the right things.

There is No Substitute for Practice

Remember, your thoughts block your intake. The following is an exercise you can try with a friend. As you listen to a friend try to tell you something important to them, try the following:

1. Notice what you typically think as your friend talks, and then identify your habitual thinking patterns: #s 1-7 above

2. Realizing your thinking blocks your intake try verbalizing your thinking while your friend is talking … notice the sense of confusion

3. Afterward, journal your thinking patterns to help you see yourself better , then practice being amused by your own thinking by telling jokes about your thinking to your friend

4. Practice letting go of your thinking as your friend talks again … this time, as thinking arises, practice letting go of your thinking by putting your hand up so your friend stops talking while you let go … then move your focus back to your friend and signal for him/her to continue

5. Next, test your skills at Integrative Presence by listening to your friend without thinking and as soon as your friend finishes talking, spontaneously summarize what he said … ask him how you did

6. For long term practice, notice your thinking during the course of the day and imagine you are speaking out loud like a crazy person might … laugh at yourself.

As you start to develop the habit of letting go of your thinking, you will notice a sense of integrative presence in yourself, as will others. You do not have to do anything but let go of your thinking. Integrative Presence is a natural state of mind that is interrupted by your thinking. Also, do not take this, or your thoughts, too seriously.

Paul David Walker, CEO Coach

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