"Your ears are open but you don’t hear a thing.
Your eyes are awake but you don’t see a thing.
The people are blockheads!
They stick their fingers in their ears
so they won’t have to listen.”
- Jesus of Nazareth
After six years of a successful run at managing my first investment portfolio near the start of my banking career, it seemed to be over in an instant. My bank had been acquired and while I managed just north of $1 billion in fixed income assets, it was folded simply into the much bigger portfolio of the acquiring bank. My position was the first to be eliminated in the acquisition.
After an aggressive 90 day search which took me to the end of my ability and the severance I had received, I got a call about a job in Chicago. To say that there was a lot riding on my full day of interviews in the windy city would be a gross understatement.
I got to the last of my six interviews at the end of the day and it was in a corner glass office on the 40th floor of 311 South Wacker. The two sides of the corner faced the old 110 story Sears Tower next door and the 22,000 square miles of Lake Michigan. Thankfully the very well dressed Regional Director for the company was tied up for another 5-10 minutes before he could join me.
Once I got over the immensity of both the lake and the adjoining building (the town in Texas I was coming from had a tallest building of 8 floors and a lake measured in square acres), I started to look around the office. There was:
a gym bag with tennis equipment
a putter from a golf bag
numerous sales awards
lots of family photos
a meticulously clean desk
a painting with his first and last name on it
a bible on his back credenza
While I was being considered for a position that relied on my market experience, the position required selling as well. After some get-to-know-you questions, he asked:
Him: What makes you think you can sell?
Me: When I am passionate about something and believe it is in the other’s best interest, I am pretty relentless at convincing them of the same.
Him: That’s good, what else makes you think you can sell?
Me: Well, I read people really quickly.
Him: That’s super interesting. Tell me about myself.
Me: You are driven by success, but your family is really important to you as well. And while you are competitive and an athlete, you have an artistic side. Finally, your desire for success and achievement is grounded by an even deeper set of core convictions that anchor your life.
Him: Wow! That’s pretty accurate.
The good news is that the job and our time in Chicago irreversibly changed our marriage and family for good and helped define the next decade and a half of my career, eventually back here in Texas.
Did I really know this guy from sitting in his office? No. But by being given the privilege of some time in his office, I came to a pretty powerful understanding of who he is and what motivates him. The lesson of that experience has never left me.
If I will have eyes to see…
If I will be slow to speak and quick to listen…
If i will simply observe instead of dominate…
If I will ask questions to understand and not to control…
…there is a wealth of information to learn about other things and other people. There is a glory to everyone’s life. That treasure hunt is available in every conversation. With your spouse, your children, your employees, or pretty much anyone else you will ever meet. It is being in the posture of holy observation that can change everything.
How well do you know the people around you?
How much time do you spend in observation?
How much time do you spend in dictation?
How perceptive are you about the even holier observation that the Spirit provides while in holy observation?