I have a client who loves Jazz.  LOVES.  He is filled with his love for the music and the musicians.  He can hear a few notes and tell you who it is and about everything about their history.  It’s mind-blowing, the amount this man knows and is willing to teach me, the eager student.  He’s reaching to be an expert, he knows so much and still knows what he doesn’t know yet. And he’s turned me on to, literally, an entire new world of sound and experience.

He knows all this because of his love of music. We were talking about levels of production for musicians; what are all the ways one musician can put music out into the world? How many recordings, how many shows, how much practice, how much learning and expansion one musician can have. Add to that how many unique combinations can bring musicians together for a time, brief or extended, to play and record then blow them apart into the next iteration. Each committed musician reaching to be an expert, mastering an aspect of themselves and their instrument, then expanding into unknown territory of what’s possible.

It’s easy to see what someone has produced, in that reach for expert-ness, when they actually produce a product: a record or CD, a piece of art, a car, a garden.  A thing you can hold and touch or see that is the result of someone’s work.  It’s also easy to compare and think, “what am I doing with my life? I don’t have that kind of stuff to show for it….”.

But we are all an expert at something, we’ve spent years of our lives learning, doing, creating things. They may not be a thing someone else can hold, but they are something. Our results are more vaporous, but no less important or valuable.

Those of you who are parents, your expertise and results may be in your children. You poured years of your time, energy, and attention into growing human beings. It may be skills in boundaries, in balance, in human connection. Or it may be in learning to embrace unconditional love as your children go in directions you would never choose for them.

Where are you an expert? What have you spent your life being and doing, what have you poured yourself into? Where are you producing results you may not yet recognize or appreciate?

I am an educator and a coach.  My expertise and results are in my students and clients, in those who learn from me as I’m learning from them. One of my most under-rated skills is listening. I’m an exceptional listener. My Jazz loving client is an expert listener as well; he listens to the music and hears all the depth, story, and humanity in it. I listen to people and hear all the depth, story, and humanity in them.

I can hear you without judgment and without getting emotionally snaggled in your story. I can listen without evaluating or judging the people or situations you are talking about. I haven’t heard a story that surprised me in years.  I’ve heard things that no human should have to hear, much less actually live through.  I can hear and be with you through nearly anything.  And if there is a struggle for me to hear you, I’ll do my work so I can listen even more deeply while you speak your truth.

You can’t package listening.  You can’t hold it in your hand, put it on a cd to sell, see it hanging on a wall.  Listening is a way of being with someone. I’m reaching to be an expert, mastering my ability to hear and be with anything that needs to be said, anyone that needs to be heard.  I may not be producing things, but there are profound results in everyone who allows themselves to be heard so deeply it changes who they are and how they think of themselves. They get to live bigger, fuller, happier lives from the shifts.

For me, this is the most delicious result possible.