When watching the video on the opening page of the mental fitness challenge, we hear Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady describe “making sense of all the noise”. If ever there was a time we could say we are being bombarded with an over abundance of information from every source of technology, it is now. There is no better time for all of us to slow down and re establish the art of communication. If anything is missing from our world, it is the ability to carry on a quiet conversation about something that really matters.
Anyone who attends a challenge group meeting in the LIFE community will witness an insightful discussion that takes place. Early in my relationship with Orrin Woodward I learned about the concept of facilitating a discussion. I learned more from the LIFE business about communication than all my years of school. Former chairman of the Board of Editors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica Mortimer Adler said, “Human beings cannot form a community or share in a common life without communicating with one another. Simply speaking, we need to be able to have a conversation.” During the LIFE challenge groups, we take the time to have a conversation.
When did real conversation become a lost art? Rhetoric, logic, and speech were weaned out of the mainstream educational curriculems at the turn of the 1900's. Since then, the art of speaking and listening was no longer emphasized. The classical liberal arts programs were gradually replaced by career focused training programs.
Ancient history however, placed rhetoric as an honorable art. Cicero became famous as one of Rome’s top orators. One biographer says of him, “He cultivated a style of speaking which was chaste and elegant.” I’ve had many people ask me if my friend and business partner, Dan Hawkins, is a professional speaker. They have a hard time believing that his previous career was an auto mechanic. Dan, like many other members of the LIFE community, grew these skills in the living rooms where challenge group meetings take place. He has hours invested in the art of speaking and listening.
President Reagan’s speech writer Peggy Noonan says, “Treat members of your audience as if they’re friends. Talk to them with the same candor and trust and respect.” Challenge groups are becoming the core to building communities. These activities develop the bonds of friendships. You can feel the freshness of a group of people who care and are willing to take the time to listen without distractions. This community withholds judgement, making it easier for people to be transparent. It’s not often people give full attention to listening.
It seems like all of the technology is signaling for our attention in this busy world. It’s a breath of fresh air to find a group who is willing to slow down and take the time to listen. Conversation = communication. Communication = community. It’s kind of funny that something as simple as slowing down to listen could become something so powerful. God Bless, George Guzzardo