Generally we have two of them, we are advised growing up to use them more than the one mouth we have, and they’re often the first things we look to cover up when Jack Frost comes to town.
But just how useful are our ears, and the space between them?
The ear is the avenue to the heart
The importance of ears came to mind this week when appreciating recent achievements, defining news ones to pursue, and genuinely feeling a little bit unfocused.
I’d just broken into new ground in terms of distance I could cover in one continuous training session – an important milestone ahead of the inaugural Spartan Ultra World Championships taking place in Iceland in a few weeks time – and I felt a little directionless.
Yes, the achievement was substantial to me, being twice as far as I’d previously ran. Yes I’d had the support of some amazing friends and family to get through it, and it showed that preparation really does increase the chances of success.
However, in the days after, I felt a little lost, with no clear plan on what to do between this moment and the race itself.
It was then I reached out to my trusted athletic brothers, a team of elite competitors who understand the balance of life, work and training effort, for some guiding words.
Their words ranged from factual assessments of what maybe causing my current state, through humourous jibes with a genuinely positive intent behind them, to supportive words to reframe the challenge positively – each in its own unique way enabling me to move to a different state, get through my mental block and wake up raring to go the next day.
So why were their ears so important at that moment?
It is not the voice that commands the story; it is the ear
The trust was there for me to feel like I could bring my whole self to the conversation – my thoughts, feelings and emotions, without fear of judgment.
The ears of those guys were pointed with the intent of listening and supporting my needs in this moment, not their own.
The environment in which we spoke supported the level of privacy I needed.
And the timing of their responses worked in a timeframe that worked to support me.
These moments arise for many of the Millennial talent whom I coach, where a particular challenge has been achieved or a trusted sounding board is needed to explore something that matters to them at a deep level.
It is experiences like my own and the reflection upon them that allow me to appreciate what those people might need, and work to understand those needs so that they get the support they need.
So next time you’re faced with a friend, colleague or confident who is looking for support, or who usually support you, remember we all need an ear sometimes, and being wholly present for them could be all the difference they need.