I was recently talking to a teacher and he shared with me a goal he set for himself this summer that he is striving to carry with him into the school year. The idea is simple, he has been trying to eliminate, or at least limit the use of, the words “I” and “my” from his vocabulary. In doing so, he wants to truly listen to what others are saying and resist the temptation to immediately respond with something like, “Well for me…” or “In my life…” or “I think…” When he shared this idea with me, he immediately challenged me to think about how often, when engaged in even the simplest of conversations with people, we find ourselves waiting for the other person to finish talking just so we can interject what we have to say about the subject.
Our discussion reminded me of this short comedy routine.
How many times does your ego step in and turn you into the guy in this video? Life becomes about “one upping” those around us rather listening to what others are saying. Our ego causes us to tell a better story, give advice, make excuses, or get defensive rather than just listening.
I have started to pay attention to this in my own conversations, and to be honest, I am terrible at jumping in with my own story, thoughts, or suggestions way to quickly. The desire to tell a funnier story, give some advice, or just talk about my own life, distracts me from truly engaging with other people. I feel that I try to be humble and think about others first while serving my family or the people with whom I work, but this challenge has made me realize how often I bring a conversation back to myself, my advice, or my own stories in conversation.
I admire the purpose of this challenge and am grateful that one of my teachers shared it with me. I hope to continue to keep it as a focus as well. I know the more I keep this idea in the forefront of each conversation, the better I will become at eliminating “I’s” and “My’s” in my life, and the easier this challenge will become.
Pay attention during the course of the next couple of weeks to how many times “I’s” and “My’s” take the lead in conversations with the people in your life. Maybe you are much better than I at this, but you might be just as surprised as I was at how often they arise. And, if you want to take up the challenge as well, do your best to focus on “No I’s; No My’s” in your day to day conversations with others.
Keep learning; keep growing; keep sharing!