Conversation Starter

Listen.

In this article, we would like to explore the lost art of listening.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”  -Steven Covey

Pour a cup of coffee and prepare yourself.

First, we must establish the difference between hearing and listening.  Hearing is the physical process of catching sound waves and the body’s actions to interpret those waves as sounds.  Listening is what happens after those signals reach the brain.  Therefore, hearing is physical (hence, “hearing impairment”) and listening is mental.

“Listening with the intent to reply”, as Covey calls it, simply indicates that one listens only so much to copy a subject and then paste that subject into their response.  In other words, it isn’t total listening, only so much to snag a nugget and twist it into your own shape.

Listening with the intent to understand is completely different.  It is the type of listening and concentration that requires the most energy (which is why lazy thinkers do this the least) and a depth of self-awareness that requires practice.  In ‘listening to understand’ one must first realize that theirs is not the only knowledge and point of view.  One must also grasp that someone else may have a more valid and useful thought to present.  Finally, and perhaps most difficult, is the idea that one must be able to recognize and accept their own faults and be willing to open themselves to new ideas.

Listening to understand is dying. I would love to say it isn’t.  Until people actually put in the effort required to learn the skill conversations will remain an immature game of, “yea but..” and “you think that’s cool..”.

Why not try it.  The next time you’re in a conversation with a spouse, colleague, or friend truly listen to understand and not respond.  It will take practice, but the depth of connection will be something you have not seen before.

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Conversation Starter

Multitasking Doesn’t Exist.

Did you know that multitasking, the idea that one can accomplish more than one task simultaneously, is a myth?  Humans throughout history have attempted at various times and employed various strategies to find the ‘magic bullet’ to unlock the secrets of this skill, to no avail.  Not only is multitasking a myth, it can actually put you in danger.

To be clear, we are talking about the perceived ability to concentrate on more than one mental task at a time.  This is not to say that coordination (being able to draw a triangle with one hand while drawing a square with the other for instance) and multitasking is the same time.  We are focusing on the mental focus center of the brain; those tasks that require your concentration.

First, lets examine how the human brain operates.  For the purpose of explanation, lets imagine your concentration as an electrical outlet.  Into that single outlet can be plugged a lamp, toaster, phone charger, or hair dryer, but not at the same time.  In order to use that power for another device, you must first unplug the previous tool.

Therefore, those who think they are multitasking are simply unplugging one cord and replacing it with a different plug.  Therefore, we should call it what it really is; switch-tasking.  We change mental channels quickly from one task to another, fooling ourselves into thinking we’re more productive.

Wrong.

It actually takes time for your brain to switch the channel and then remember what that channel was showing.  Therefore, a significant portion of your day can be wasted by your brain trying to keep up.

How else can this be dangerous?  Have you heard about the rise in roadway deaths due to texting?  Have you heard about the rise in pedestrian deaths due to constantly looking at a device?  Once your brain plugs into looking at a device it blocks out other perceived distractions like driving or looking for cars before crossing a street.  And that’s just a simple example.

The solution?  Do one thing at a time.  Concentrate on one thing at a time.  Put the phone in the back seat when you drive and in your pocket when you’re having a conversation.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can have a conversation with your spouse while writing an email or you might be reminding your boss to get milk on the way home tomorrow.

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Is Custom Coffee Right for Me?

wrong_question_headerMany people ask if they will like custom roasted coffee.  We have settled on a self quiz to answer this common question.

#1. Do you add several creamers or sweeteners to your coffee? (If you answered YES, the flavors, aromas, and nuances of custom roasted coffee may get lost.  Custom roasted coffee may NOT be for you.)

#2. Do you notice and enjoy the favors and aromas of other drinks, such as wine, beer, bourbon, whiskey, and scotch? (If you answered YES you may enjoy the subtle flavors and aromas different coffees offer, and custom roasted coffee offers the most flavor and aroma. May we suggest a ‘flight’- several roasts of the same bean to discover the flavor differences in the roast.  Custom roasted coffee IS DEFINITELY for you!)

#3. Adventure; do you like to try new foods and drinks? (If you answered YES custom roasted coffee IS for you! With many bean origins and flavor profiles to choose from, you can be as adventurous as you like!)

We hope this helps you decide if you would enjoy investing the time and money for custom roasted coffee.  Certainly, if you have any other questions, we would be happy to help answer them!  Simply email privatesales@mistergcoffee.com; we’re here to help!

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Smooth Seas Do Not Make Skillful Sailors

“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” -African Proverb  

There is no substitute for the knowledge and skill that one gains from experience under real world conditions.  From driving, to flying, to sailing, experience is the best teacher.  

In addition, you know what you are capable of when challenges arise.  What do you do when the jib sheet snags and, better yet, how do prevent that in the future.  (Boy, THAT wasn’t in the book!)  Facing challenges with experience knowledge is always preferable to reading knowledge.  (Do you want your surgeon to have experience or a library?)

True, smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.  They are, however, a great place to start.  Every teacher, chef, parent, and instructor knows that you start with the easy experiences and then get more challenging.  Smooth seas are a great place to practice, to prepare, and to ready the skills that will be needed.

When I was learning to drive, my dad took me to an empty, snow covered parking lot and told me to slide.  This was a controlled area for me to gain experience of what the wheel feels like when the tires lose grip, how to guard against it, and how to get it back under control.  That ‘smooth sea’ of a parking lot was a great practice ground.

The lesson in all of this is to fold.  First, don’t call yourself a sailor if you only go out on the nicest of days, in the best of conditions.  Second, if you find that you need practiced with a skill, don’t put yourself or others in danger to practice it.

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Coffee Tips

3 (Not So Secret) Secrets to Excellent Coffee

For those of you who really savor your coffee, the perfect cup is a constant goal.  Like sailing, some days are better than others and consistency is always a struggle.  Take Walt Disney’s four “C’s” of success; Curiosity, Courage, CONSISTENCY, and Confidence.

We have isolated 3 things you can do right now to make consistently great coffee.

First, get fresh beans.  Like any baked good, the overall quality of coffee decays after roasting.  (It is, after all, a pretty violent process.)  The first great coffee quality to be lost is aroma.  After that, the natural sweetness evaporates.  Finally, the subtle flavor components.  What you’re left with is lifeless, flat, sour-smelling and tastless brown liquid.  If your coffee is more than 10-14 days old, you’re never going to get a great result.

Second, grind at home. Invest the few dollars and seconds it takes to grind your beans fresh before brewing.  Keeping the beans whole buys some insurance against the ever-evil (and ever-present) air that strips away the aroma, sweetness, and flavor oils.

Finally, drink it fresh.  I’m as guilty as anyone of breaking this rule, but try really hard to drink your coffee fresh.  Reheating steals flavor from coffee and helps connect bitter compounds that make them more noticeable.  If you happen to have left-overs, make coffee ice cubes by pouring into trays and freezing.  Use these to keep your iced latte cold without watering it down.  Better yet, pop coffee cubes into a blender with a little cream for a frozen treat.

There you have it.  3 simple ways to find consistency and excellence in your coffee.  Enjoy!

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No Wind is Favorable for Those With No Destination.

No wind is favorable for those with no destination. -Norwegian Proverb

Goals.  We’re told to set them, work for them, keep our eye on them, and reach for them.  But, in reality, how many of us do this correctly and consistently?  Let’s step back and examine how to make goal setting a more effective and enjoyable experience.

First, when you think about your goals, make them realistic.  Sure, we all have those ‘pie in the sky’ goals that are far out of the realm of reality, but we fool ourselves into thinking that they are attainable.  Realistic goals are those just barely out of reach.  For instance, if budgeting is your goal then strive to stay within budget.  Check your progress often.  If there is a setback, don’t give up; be flexible.

By the way, I advocate setting goals, plural.  Set goals that are short, medium, and long rang.  Make them align so one goal is a step to the next.

Setting, striving, and achieving goals, like many things, is a skill.  You practice, you evaluate, and you get better.  Whether the goals you make are career, relationship, or financial in nature, the skill is practiced the same.  (Be aware that relationship goals are for YOU only.  You are the only person you control.)

I hope this discussion helps you to try setting and achieving goals for yourself.  Like many other skills, the better you become, the easier it gets.

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One Foot Can Not Stand in Two Boats

One foot can not stand in two boats. -Chinese Proverb

When people first hear this proverb, most have the same reaction.  “Of course,” they say, “who would ever think that the same foot can be in two places at the same time?”  Ironically, many of these same people continue to try putting one foot into two boats in their daily lives.

See, this simple saying has a couple very useful applications in today’s World; decision-making and multitasking.  Each of these things has a very direct bearing on stress, leadership, and overall happiness.  Let’s take a look at each one and find our how we can start this year with tools and habits for success.

First on the short list is decision-making.  There are many people who stress over making a decision.  In their mind they keep asking themselves one question, “what if I’m wrong?”  This question grips them in a paralyzing state until either the opportunity has passed or the decision is made for them.

Decision making is a skill.  Like any skill there are going to be successes and learning experiences, but it requires practice, thought, attention, and evaluation.  You start with gathering information.  In order to make a confident, informed decision you must have all the information available.

After you have the information, assemble your options.  Whether there multiple options or only two, lay out specifically what each choice includes, along with any foundation that needs to be laid in order to implement that option.  Part of the assembly process is weighing the ramifications of each decision and this is where most become frozen with the “what if”.   (“What if” will be the subject of a later blog…)  Power through the ‘what if’ and root your decision in the information you have available to you.  (This is where you would seek counsel and opinions of those who have experience you can use.  You don’t need to do this alone…)

Finally, make the choice.  Be prepared to justify it.  Stand up for it.  In my business, I have much more respect for those who make a choice, even if I don’t agree, as long as it’s informed and thought out.

POINT- New information may affect your decision.  Be open and not defensive to evaluation!!

The second topic is multitasking.  Let me first say that I firmly believe that ‘multitasking’ is a myth.  Can’t be done.  The human brain is not able to concentrate on more than one task at a time.  One foot can not stand in two boats.  Be aware of where your focus is and adjust if necessary.  Maybe the email can wait two minutes for attention to be on a child, partner, client, or employee.  I’ve never heard an argument start with, “You pay attention to me!”

Hopefully, this has given you something to think about today.  Please leave comments or thoughts and share!  Also, be sure to subscribe to this blog for more in the “Proverbs” series and we look forward to having you visit again and share thoughts over coffee!

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