One of the things that most often gets in our way is our belief that we must make a point, contribute something of value, or have something insightful to say.
If you did well in school, it’s likely because you mastered the art of showing how smart you were by contributing to the conversation and giving the right answer.
There’s a lot of emphasis in the business world on how you’re “adding value” and the idea of adding more value than anyone else.
Nothing wrong with this; it’s important for every person and business owner to think about. It’s what keeps businesses in business.
Look around at the internet. How many “free reports” have you downloaded? Each of those sites is run by a person who believes that the way in is through giving value in the form of giving.
We assume that “adding value” means giving something. Even when the “something” isn’t really valuable to the person who is receiving it. I don’t know about you, but I have a folder full of those free downloads that I’ve never looked at. Turns out they weren’t so valuable.
The idea that adding value looks like “giving something” is so deeply embedded in our conditioning that we’ve habituated to it. It’s the air we breathe, the water we drink. We don’t know anything else because that’s our environment.
This is an old paradigm that is changing. But it takes a willingness to step outside this paradigm to recognize that “giving” is not the only way to add value.
You can add value without giving a smart, well-considered response, without providing the breakthrough solution, without giving anything at all.
One of the easiest ways to add value is by listening. Truly deep listening.
Most people listen only partially, waiting for the pause so they can insert their opinion in the name of “adding value.” Some people don’t listen at all; they may be so caught up in their own agenda that they don’t even hear what is being said.
To engage in truly deep listening means letting go of your agenda to hear what another person is saying. It requires letting go of your need to control a situation so you can feel into what is truly needed in the moment.
Allowing people to be heard, creating space for other voices to come forward, is a profound way to add value and one of the highest forms of leadership.
This is deceptively simple, and not easy, because of the high levels of traits it requires. Among them:
It requires trust in the unfolding of events, so that we feel safe enough to give up control, knowing that we will eventually have the opportunity to share our views.
It requires confidence in our opinion and our own intelligence, which allows us to to be generous in ceding the spotlight.
It requires being rooted in our own enoughness, which supports us in championing others.
It requires constant attunement to the current situation so you can meet the needs of the moment.
To hold space for others to express their opinions and feel heard is the ultimate way to add value, and a skill well worth mastering.