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Chapter 4. Active Listening (Martial Art: Concentration)

Chapter 4. Active Listening
(Martial Art: Concentration)

Let me tell you a story…about the Japanese Zen Master who received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. It was obvious to the master from the start of the conversation that the professor was not so much interested in learning about Zen as he was in impressing the master with his own opinions and knowledge. The master listened patiently and finally suggested that they have tea. The master poured his visitor's cup full and then kept pouring.

The professor watched the cup overflowing until he could no longer restrain himself. “The cup is overfull, no more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” the master said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

—Zen in the Martial Arts [4.1]

Let's flash forward to the end of your next mission-critical presentation and assume that it was the performance of a lifetime. Everything went perfectly: Your narrative was eloquent, your Microsoft PowerPoint slides were illustrative, your delivery was expressive, and your audience watched and listened in spellbound silence.


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