Listening To The Past

christopher carter, body language,listening,history,magic historyI’m heading into downtown Chicago this morning to attend an auction of vintage posters and memorabilia from long-ago magicians and mentalists. It’s a larger market that you would imagine, with collectors bidding from all over the world.

The auction covers items from scores of artists, many of whom are famous to me, though you probably would never have heard of them. My interest today is limited. There’s an old box of memorabilia—posters, letters, notes—from a 1930s mentalist who went by the name Princess Yvonne that I have my eyes on.

Who was Princess Yvonne? I have no idea. But I intend to find out.

I speak to organizations about listening. The crucial first step to this is acknowledgement. Until we acknowledge the importance of the other person to our lives, we cannot open ourselves up to their influence, we cannot ever truly learn from them. And being able to learn from a person is all that listening really is.

Studying history is the way we acknowledge the past. It’s a way of saying to the past, “I am ready to listen to you and eager for what you have to teach me.”

Think of all millions upon millions of lessons history has made available for us. Isn’t it a crime when we fail to listen to them? This is why I collect materials from the greats, and no less crucially, the not-as-greats from the history of my craft. It’s a ritual of acknowledgement. It’s my way of saying, “My ears are open. My mind is open. What do you have to tell me?”

Who will you acknowledge in your organization or life today?

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