Since I started my coaching with Doug, my life has completely changed! It’s the first time in many years, that I have found my purpose. I have moved from being frustrated, overwhelmed, and angry to experiencing a joy that I did not know existed.

My relationships with my loved ones have improved dramatically, and now I can create a meaningful connection with every person that I meet.
Finally after so many years of struggle I am experiencing great results in my
professional life and business.

I am so grateful for the experience I have had coaching with Doug.

~ Ioana Balanescu

The Ten Things that Great Listeners Avoid



For years we ChildListeninglgwho have worked with the Og Mandino Leadership Institute have been asking the question to thousands of people, “When was the last time you felt truly safe and understood in a conversation?” There were lots of long moments of silence. Most could not respond. A few would refer to three or four years ago they had one because it was so life-changing and rare that they would never forget it.

Consider what Steve Shapiro said about how effective listening affects the quality of our lives:


Your quality of Life is determined by the quality of your relationships. Your quality of relationships is determined by the quality of your communication. Your quality of communication is directly linked to your ability to effectively listen.

Become Aware 

Here are 10 brief descriptions of what listening is not:

  1. Tell It……Now! You are talking and you can tell their mind is totally occupied with what they are going to say as soon as you are done.
  2. Break In! Before you even finish your story they break in and share their “more exciting” story.
  3. O.P.P. Solving Other People’s Problems/Fix it for them.
  4. The “Me” Factor: Everything you talk about they turn it back to them.
  5. Brush Off: You talk about a serious problem or concern and they say something like “it will work out” or “you will do just fine”.
  6. My Way or No Way! Have to be Right: fight to the finish!
  7. I Heard Everything You Said…. As they continue working or watch the game….
  8. The Finishing Statement: Finishing people’s sentences for them.
  9. Over Reacting: You share a concern about a policy with the boss and immediately you are told exactly what you will do and the deep consequences that will follow if you don’t.
  10. Mind Reading: You say or do something and they assume they know what your intentions were for doing it.

Act on What You Know

Being aware of “what listening is not” allows you to now begin to take action.  Growth can only come when there is awareness and consistent practice of what we know.  So, if you do any of the above, and we all do at times, then I suggest the following:


I know this is easy to say and difficult to do.  These are all habits that most of us have had for years that we have mirrored from watching others as we were growing up.

If you could have put band-aids on my tongue I would have used many boxes as I was creating new habits of listening.

Start today!

Take one of these areas that you may be struggling with and for one day become aware of how often it surfaces in your conversations. Replace the habit by listening and when appropriate ask intuitive questions. Also, listen for what people are really saying and why.  Be patient, but with practice you will be amazed at how it affects your relationships.

One of the most powerful and effective tools I have used in developing strong relationships through learning how to truly connect with people in a very genuine and authentic way is to mind-map your habits of thinking that drive behaviors and attitudes.  If you would like more information about this go to

How do you feel when someone is really not listening to you? And what have you done to change some of these habits? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

Doug Stoddard

Continue reading “The Ten Things that Great Listeners Avoid”


“The mind is a wonderful thing. It starts working the minute you are born, and never stops until you get up to speak in public.” Roscoe Drummond

Why does this happen in speaking?

Have you ever drawn a blank and become speechless when you are talking with someone else? Does the fear of that happening and what others may think, keep you from engaging in sometimes?

Do you have moments when you feel like you have to know exactly what to say or you will blow it?

Love to get your response.

How do Our Thoughts Impact Effective Listening?

What is effective listening?   

It is imperative to understand that Effective Listening is not hearing, telling, or talking. This is probably opposite to what your experience has been.

According to Free Dictionary, listening is to give your attention to a sound or conversation. Effective means showing up in such a way as to produce a strong impression or result.

The impression that you want people to have as you communicate with them, is they feel safe and understood.

The result or outcome is that you build a bridge into their world. They bring down their walls of resistance, co-operation and productivity increases, and they give you their co-operation, productivity. They work out of passion instead of compliance. In the case of our loved ones, they give us their hearts and trust.

How do our thoughts impact this process?

Look at it this way. If you had glasses that reflected on the lens your thoughts, feelings, expectations, and agendas, and whomever you were talking with could see what was written, and feel the emotion behind it, how would it impact your communication?

This is exactly what happens. Each of us has what are called mirror neurons. These neurons are located in the Fight or Flight center of our minds and fire at twice the speed as other neurons.

I like to call them environmental detectors or in situations they may be referred to as BS detectors. They quickly pick up everything that is going on with what you see, feel and hear. Before you can blink these neurons, start sending chemical reactions that create feelings and emotions. People can feel weather or not you are genuine, truly interested in them, if you care, and if there are hidden agendas.

If you are packing around the negative emotions from past experiences, and having all kinds of mind chatter going on, it pulls you away from showing up as
genuine, interested, empathetic and intuitive. Sensing this, the mirror neurons flip the button and their walls of resistance go up.

You also have these neurons and what you feel is the splash back of their resistance and rejection. We do not like this feeling. This happens, as an example, when someone approaches a potential client with thoughts of the money that will come from the sale, or when they act like they care but it is surface only.

You cannot “fake it until you make it” when it comes to Effectively Listening and connecting with people.


If you are tired of living on the surface of relationships, and feeling rejection and resistance,  and would like to identify the habits of thinking that are sabotaging your ability to connect, create strong teams, or build bridges of trust, I would invite you to check this out.

What Skill Influences up to 40% of a leader’s Job Performance?

Impalas at three-feet tall can jump 10 feet vertically, and when running can jump 30 feet horizontally. They have all the instincts and ability to be free, stay free, and thrive in spite of the many predators they face daily.

Yet, with all of these skills and instincts, the impala does not know how to overcome the walls in their lives. You see, with all of that capacity to jump, flee, and escape, if an impala is faced with a 3-foot solid wall they will not try to jump it. Why, because they can’t see what is on the other side.

Imagine the conversation that is going on in the impala’s head. Now, I am taking some liberty here since I have not been in the mind of an impala. However, over the years I have been in my own mind a great deal and have talked with many others who share their mind with me, so I guess, I can speak for the impala.

When the impala first sees the wall, it begins to focus on what it can’t see and panics because its mind is creating images of the terrible predators and
catastrophes that might be on the other side. These images then release chemicals and hormones (cortisol, fear dendrites, and others) that create feelings of fear, stress, worry, anxiety, and procrastination. Sound familiar? Fight or Flight.

The size of the wall has nothing to do with the ability of the impala to escape. Its failure to move forward comes from the mind creating a “what if” scenario that for the most part, does not exist—“What if a Cheetah is on the
other side, it chases me, I’m lunch. Better to stay right where I am and settle for a life of captivity. It is the wall’s fault.”

Sounds crazy, right. Yet, how many of us create our own walls of resistance by the mental chatter that is going on, and the “tint” of our glasses that comes  from past experiences. How does that block your connection with others?

Over the next four weeks, I am going to focus on the skill set that is in greatest demand today, and how the “mindset of the impala” can sabotage the development and use of this skill in creating powerful connections and building bridges of trust.

It is a skill set that:

  • According to Dr. Travis Bradberry, a recent study by George Washington University stated that this skill influences up to 40% of a leader’s job performance.
  • When used effectively, can exponentially increase the quality of our personal and professional lives.
  • When not understood and applied, drives people away, burns bridges of trust, sinks productivity and profitability.
  • Build connection and relationship bridges faster than anything else does.

This skill set is Effective Listening.

Note: It is NOT called effective hearing, talking, or telling.

Many years ago I thought I was an effective listener, as most of us think we are, and then we had two of our six children put up some very high walls and for nine years they totally shut us out. I don’t know of anything so painful as losing a relationship with a child.

What I am going to share with you in the upcoming weeks is what built the bridges of trust, connection, and understanding that brought the walls down and created amazing relationships with these children, and totally transformed my relationships and connections with others of all walks of life.

What I learned  has also led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in increased revenue, and a dramatic reduction in rejection and frustration.

If you have had days where you have felt rejection, frustration, or lost in how to build the bridge of connection you desire, you might want to check this out           Effective Listening to Create Powerful Connections.

What does Walking on a Tightrope Have to do with Reaching Your Goals?


In 1991 Vince Poscente along with other Olympic speed skaters were challenged by their coach to walk across a tightrope as fast as they could without falling off. In his book, The Age of Speed, Vince tells of the many times they held their arms out to the side and carefully placed their feet on the rope only to fall off the rope each time.

Have you ever felt that way in how your goals and life are turning out?

After much bruising and humiliation, the coach stepped in and taught them the principle behind success of crossing the rope.


He said, “In order to go fast quit focusing on the rope and start focusing on the destination. Find a clear point of focus at the opposite end of the rope and keep your eyes on that point.”

Each person went to the starting point of the rope, set their sights on the point of focus and took off. Every one of them on the first try succeeded in quickly crossing the rope!

What is your clear point of focus?

Your point of focus means that whatever your goals are they must be centered on values you hold deeply. They also must be driven by theses three key principles in order to sustain the energy, focus, and passion to achieve them:

  1. They must be focused on your intrinsic desire of bringing value to others.
  2. Your goals must be accompanied with a vision of a material or extrinsic outcome that you hold intrinsically valuable in your heart.
  3. Your efforts are magnified by a disciplined structure that you totally embrace and accept. If you resist the structure needed to accomplish your goal, you will fall off of the rope.

If you don’t have these three principles in place you goals will be strangled by the feelings of “ frustration, procrastination, have to’s, should, and must and obligation.

However, when you set your goals based on these three principles something magical happens that brings passion, a deep sense of fulfillment, and speeds up the completion time with greater ease.

If you find yourself off track at any time, you simply go back to the intrinsic reasons within these three steps, which will then re-fire your commitment, passion, and drive, Your Clear Point of Focus.

If you like this content I would suggest you read my post on Are You holding Your Life Hostage?

A Word to Put Into Your Heart, Business, and Life

The embracing of this word is a soft skill that can dramatically change cultures, profits, attitudes, and profitability. MOST important is that it will change YOU!

Becoming is far more important than Getting!

The marketplace (your home, work, communities) are demanding that we show up as authentic, real, and genuine. The embracing of Genshai quickly brings us to a place of being real and genuine. The golden rule.

Bring the Best You  into your marketplace today. GENSHAI

If you like this please share it with others. You might also enjoy  this post

Survive or Thrive

Are you just trying to survive another day?

If we are Survive or Thrive Ant sm1not careful, we can begin to develop a survival mindset that can create scarcity, feelings of being a victim, drawing inward and even depression.

Many years ago, as a young missionary, I was serving in Peru in an area called La Esperanza, (The Hope).  I didn’t understand why it was called The Hope because this area had one paved road, deep sand, occasional electricity, very little running water, and three inch cockroaches that dominated our apartment.

Each day our meals consisted of warm canned milk, chicken with the hair still on it, a banana, and a hard roll. Surrounded all day long by deep poverty and tremendous challenges, each evening we would fall on our beds feeling mentally and physically exhausted and say, “We survived another day!”

One night my companion said “I think we are supposed to do more than just survive, I think we are supposed to be doing some good!” The light of this idea began to flicker, glow and within a couple of days we began to find many ways to serve.

Our lives moved from surviving to thriving. Self-esteem increased, we were happier, and life became very rewarding even though the food, cockroaches, and the environment were still the same.

Try this today and “Do Some Good”

  1. Find the Good in People and tell them about it.
  2. Look for the Good in their ideas and tell them so.
  3. Spend Time with them – Show Up/ Be Present when you are with them.
  4. Give them the Gift of You, the Real You!


PS  The path to moving from simply surviving life, work, or a relationship to a place of thriving starts with the habit of thinking that we have created. These thought processes drive our lives into Surviving or Thriving.

Discover the habits of thinking that control your life. Go to and take the Habits of Thinking Assessment

The Number One Mindset for Real Success In Life!

Do You Want to Feel ALIVE, VALUED, and PRODUCTIVE Today?

Try This!

In your fast-paced, hectic, demand-driven world Pause, take a deep breath, and imagine that these words are influencing and guiding your life today.

Who can I serve today? Put them in my path and I will serve

Holding Light ServiceWhat will you see?         What will you hear?      What will you feel?     What will you say?  What will you do differently?

We become more significant individuals as we serve others. We become more substantive as we serve others—indeed, it is easier to “find” ourselves because there is so much more of us to find! _Spencer W. Kimball


Try it just today. Listen, act, and you will change the world of someone else…..and yours!

How has a small act of service influenced your day?

Fear or Confidence, it is Your Choice

I was six yearfreedom1s old hanging on to the edge of the swimming pool watching the fun that everyone was having in the water except for me. Lacking Confidence and paralyzed with fear of what would happen if I let go of the edge my internal struggle was immense. I was longing for the freedom and fun that would come from letting go but tortured by the images in my mind of drowning.

Have you been there before, aching to breakthrough, but hesitant to let go, take the next step, and cross the gap of where you are to where you want to be? There is no Peace of Mind is this place of fear, only insecurity, excuses, energy loss, and wondering, “What is wrong with me”. Procrastination is KING!

Sensing what was happening, my dad asked me to come see him. I got out of the pool and walked over to him. Suddenly, he grabbed me and threw me into the water. When I finally broke the surface, sputtering, choking, still alive, and mad I could hear my mom yelling, “You are going to kill him!”

Dad just encouraged me by showing me how to use my arms, and after what seemed like an eternity and swallowing 100 gallons of water, I managed to get to the edge. Before I knew it dad haBoy in Water sm1d pulled me up and threw me back into the water! This process happened three times but when my head broke the surface the third time, my fear had left and I realized that I COULD SWIM! I turned around and paddled over to my friends. I felt such joy, peace, and confidence and the untrue debilitating images of drowning were gone. Dad smiled and joined me in the water.

Og Mandino in Scroll number nine says, “Action reduces the lion of terror into an ant of equanimity” (peace of mind). When you act, the real you shows up and quiets the unhealthy habits of thinking that can drive your life into fear, insecurity, and procrastination.

Would you like “a dad” to help you get started?

Action Steps Today:

  • Identify one or two areas of fear in your life
  • When you feel fear or procrastination immediately, take action.
  • Discover your Habits of Thinking Mind Map that is controlling your life by going to and watch the short video.