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  • Sharon Borland

#61 Who Are You Listening To?

Are you waiting and reacting, or moving and acting?

There can be many demands and requests for our time - whether it’s within work, taking on a voluntary role, or just helping someone out. How do we decide whether to get involved or not, and what are we listening out for that might influence us?


This week I emailed a couple to ask them to join me on a mission trip I’m organising. In their reply they asked what I thought they could contribute to the team. As I considered their question more fully, it struck me that I rarely ask this question when someone makes a request of me. I then began to wonder why I didn’t and whether my decision would be most influenced by what they thought I could bring, or what I thought I could offer. Without asking the question, we only have our own perspective of the value we might add, which is likely to be based on the opinions and judgements we have of ourselves. For many people, this can be a very poor representation of the gifts, abilities, experience and skills that each of us have. By not asking others to speak into our lives, we miss out on the opportunity to build one another up.


Over the last few years, I’ve become increasingly aware that some of my decision making and choices are shaped by my interpretation of what other people believe I’m capable of. It’s an interpretation because I haven’t actually asked what they thought I could bring or contribute. I tend not to put myself forward, preferring to wait for others to recognise my potential. This approach has inevitably resulted in me missing opportunities where I could have added significant value to someone or something. It has also meant that I’ve missed out on potentially fulfilling and rewarding experiences, as well as the encouragement of others.


Fortunately, I have been blessed with having people in my life who encourage and support me, even when I haven’t asked what they think!  I know I’ve achieved many things that wouldn’t have been possible if I’d only listened to myself. It’s important to be aware of the multitude of things that are shaping our decisions and to pay attention to why we think what we think, and why we do what we do. Without that enquiry, we are likely to continue our journey through life constrained and limited by beliefs and behaviours that don’t serve us well. Over time, some of these become so embedded that we no longer question them. 


It's never too late to begin new enquiries about ourselves. Perhaps start by considering if you believe your life is purposeful, meaningful and fulfilling. If not, what’s missing? Try asking a friend what you bring to them. What do they see in you? Consider asking yourself questions you haven’t asked before. Be curious about every aspect of your life and allow yourself to be vulnerable in those moments. It’s been said that it takes courage to be vulnerable – dare to be courageous!


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