Yesterday we talked about listening first, one of the high trust behaviors outlined in Stephen M.R. Covey’s terrific book, The Speed of Trust

Twice I’ve had the good fortune of being part of the Stagen Leadership Academy’s year-long Integral Leadership Program (ILP).  Talk about a peak learning experience.  Wow.  That’s something I highly recommend to anyone interesting in becoming a more evolved leader.

The first module of the ILP is Attention Management which is all about “paying attention to our attention,” i.e. becoming more aware of what we are focusing on moment by moment.  

Awareness is the key first step to making any change.  Because once we are aware, we are then able to make choices.  Choices that align with our values.  That simple but profound message is at the heart of becoming a better leader (and person!).  

So, what does all of this have to do with listening first?

Well, the second time I took the Stagen program was in 2012-13 when my two youngest daughters were four and five.  One of the ten Stagen strategies to become better at Attention Management is to “lose the electronic leash” – which involves asking the question: who’s really in charge – me or my mobile phone?  

What does it mean if every time our phone buzzes or beeps we stop whatever we’re doing – no matter how important – and attend to it?  

One of the strategies I adopted to “lose the electronic leash” was to put my cell phone on the top of a bookshelf in our kitchen as soon as I came home at the end of the workday.  Intentionally.  Deliberately.  The idea was to not look at my phone from when I arrived home until the girls went to bed.  Simple, right?

Not so much…

The first week or so, I would find myself wandering into the kitchen toward the bookshelf.  Like it was a magnet and I was a piece of metal.  I’m not making this up.  It took tremendous willpower not to look at it.

Now, in time this urge to look at my phone constantly faded.  

Thank, Heavens.

I’m convinced the simple act of not checking my phone is the single best strategy for becoming a good listener.  

And a good dad. 


Reflection: Who’s in charge – me or my phone?

Action: Put my phone away tonight when work is over and don’t check it the rest of the night.  

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