Monday, September 06, 2004

I Talk Too Much

I had lunch today with my friend Hal, whose book, ScreamFree Parenting, is just about ready for mass-release. I can't think of a parent who would not benefit from reading this material. We'd all be better parents (and spouses and siblings, for that matter) if we could all just calm down a little.

We talked about all kinds of stuff. The book. What it means to be a "grown up." The balance between authenticity and self-promotion. That last one is especially hard when you're an entrepreneur like Hal and a free-lance writer/speaker like me. It was a really good conversation for many reasons.

But my generalized other (that's psycho-babble for the guy who sits on your shoulder judging all the things you say) started whispering in my ear during our lunch. Usually, I can dismiss this little guy fairly easily, but he actually started making some sense. He told me, "You talk too much. You're just in love with your own voice, aren't you?"

That's true to some extent. I want Hal -- and the folks in my small group, and my wife, and just about everyone else on the planet -- to think I'm smart and wise and have it all together. I want people to think I have answers.

But the more I allow that "need" to drive my behavior, the less likely I am to get that result. Mostly, I imagine people come away from lunches like today thinking, That John! He's got issues. Talks non-stop!

I have two ears, for crying out loud, compared with only one mouth. Do the math, John. I wish I could listen quicker than I talk. I wish I was secure enough to do that. That's what I wish.