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Listen, you might learn something

Bill Fox

Bill Fox

By Bill Fox/Columnist

One of my sons is a personal trainer, kinesiologist and exercise therapist and he recently conducted a live interview on Facebook with one of his clients who is 85 and as “fit as a fiddle.”

Bill Phillips has been married for 60 years, and still runs his company after 25 years. He shared his wisdom on relationships, and I thought it would make a good topic for a column.

Every day for 30 minutes or so he and his wife sit down and share about their day. He listens to his wife and she does the same.

He is a father to four grown sons, two of which have had some health concerns. When he was 60, he retired from his first business and gave the reigns over to one of his sons. After retiring, he realized he wanted to start up another venture, so he began the business he is involved with today.

When my son, Brendan, asked him for some tips about longevity and the good life Phillips was living, he had some great advice that I had never thought about before.

Phillips said you have to listen. You have to listen to your spouse or partner. You have to listen to your children. You have to listen to your peers and employees and you have to listen to nature.

After being retired for a year, my wife was given the opportunity to work again at a local high school. When we were both retired, listening was second nature even after 45 years of marriage. But now my wife, who is always enthusiastic about her work, comes home wanting to share about her day. I have to admit, I am interested in how her day went and I listen.

We do have differences of opinion about certain things in our lives, but as I heard this week, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?”

You have to listen to your children. Much to my shame, my four sons sometimes referred to me as “Mr. Negative.”

I always wanted the best for them, and could never understand why two of them wanted to pursue music in college, or how another could have been a lawyer but wanted to be a police officer, and, finally, how Brendan, who I mentioned here, could have been a sports doctor.

Of course, I never listened about their passions, only considering the occupations that could have made them more money.

Hopefully I have matured and improved, and now I am so proud of each of them and what they have made of their lives. Now I always remember money can’t buy you happiness.

In my 40 years of teaching, I had to listen to my students. Some acted out but if you listened to their situations at home, you could have empathy for them and realize they were good kids in tough situations.

Phillips had no formal education, so how could he have started up two companies? He listened. He listened for advice from people in the business world. He learned what worked and what didn’t, while also listening to his employees – who sometimes had wonderful ideas for improvement.

Do we still listen to nature? So many folks now are becoming vegans or vegetarians because we can see how animals suffer inhumane treatment at the hands of companies.

Do we enjoy listening to the birds? Do we listen for thunder?

So how much do our cell phones interfere with us really listening? I think technology is getting so advanced it is interfering with our listening.

With listening comes listening skills. Sometimes someone will say one thing, but if you really look and listen, you may see something else there.

We can learn a lot from people who don’t necessarily have formal education training if we choose to listen to them.

I’m at if you care to share your thoughts.