Listen to Desire

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I hope you enjoy our guest post today from Janel Anderson!  A big thank you to Janel for sharing her wisdom with us.

Janel AndersonA lot of my work revolves around listening. Listening to the other person in a difficult discussion. Listening to others in a brainstorming session or innovation session. Listening to your boss when she shares constructive feedback. And in my coaching practice, I listen as clients share their progress, their questions and their challenges.

Listening is most important, however, when I coach clients to listen to that deep voice inside themselves. To get really quiet and listen. And then to get even more quiet. And then even quieter. And then settle in and listen. Listen to what their deepest desires are. Listen to that little voice says that knows what we want; what we really want.  Most of us used to know what we truly desired, although it may have been decades since we listened to that voice. In childhood most of us knew what we wanted, whether it was to climb trees, take bikes apart and put them back together, write or sing. Or sing about taking bicycles apart and putting them back together. We knew and we listened.

As we got older, it felt less safe to talk about how much we wanted it. “If I tell people I want to climb utility poles/build custom bikes/write poetry/sing in a blues club,” our approval-seeking social self told us, “then I might fail and people will know.” This thought was quiet and insidious. And it stopped us. So we keep our real desires to ourselves so as to not be judged by others.  And in the process, we judged ourselves.

In the grand equation of risk, we often priveledge the possibility of failing. Our approval seeking self gets her knickers in a twist because there is a possibility of failure. And that’s what takes over. But where the risk is is where the juice is. When we do things that have a possibility of failure, we get our biggest thrills. Think downhill skiing, running a marathon, putting our name in the running for a promotion, or doing a really hard Suduko. As the possibility of failure increases, so too does the thrill factor.

And when we master the double black diamond or cross the finish line or land the interview or solve the puzzle, we are thrilled. Thrilled with ourselves, thrilled with our accomplishment. But these are small thrills. Cheap thrills. The big thrills come only when we run the possibility of failure when taking on our deepest desires.

So listen. Listen to that small voice inside you. I want you to be thrilled with yourself in a big, BIG way. So get quiet. Really quiet. Listen to that quiet voice inside that knows What. You. Want. To. Do.  Be kind to that voice, nurture that voice. Give it voice lessons or warm tea with lemon or whatever it takes for that voice to get it’s health back. Until that voice is louder than the approval seeking voice.

Honor and trust that voice and then go off and have an amazing, thrill-seeking adventure with that which you desire.

Janel Anderson is a coach, consultant and speaker. She can be reached at or at

Janel Anderson, PhD