Lesson from a Silent Radio

Lose and find yourself

Radio from my Toyota truck. It’s been a good companion.

The Backstory

When it comes to listening to the radio, a lot has changed just over the last 10–15 years, especially when thinking of my own listening habits.

Driving to work with the radio on was an everyday thing. Get in the truck, adjust the volume, and listen in on my 30–45 minute average drive into downtown Columbus. What’s really interesting is how noticeable my listening habits changed as I worked and got older… how those listening and non-listening habits made me a better professional and person.

Where it all started

About 10 years ago, I listened to radio stations like WNCI 97.9 or WSNY 94.7. I would listen to a station in the morning for a few months; get bored with the same old commentary, songs, and humor; and need to switch things up by tuning into a new station. Sounds pretty normal.

About 5 years ago, I made a more drastic switch to keep myself updated with news and information in an attempt to keep myself “interesting” for conversation and industry chats with my colleagues and bosses. So, I started listening to NPR news on my drives to and from work. This is where it all started to go down. Down hill.

I was listening to NPR news for a couple of months, and I noticed that I was feeling negative about things more often than not after arriving to work or at home. I mean, it was noticeable. So, I thought about why and started paying attention. Long story short… it was coming from what I was listening to… NPR news… or really, just “the news.” The content was all depressing, negative reporting… somebody is at war with somebody else; another death happened; this horrible thing is upsetting the balance of the economy;… gloom and doom on and on and on.

Turning it around

I needed sanity and more uplifting commentary, music, and spirit. Where better to turn then to God’s messages, so I started listening to WCVO 104.9… yup, the “uplifting and encouraging” Christian radio station. Wow! It was a breath of fresh air. It took almost no time at all for me to notice how much better I felt after listening. The stories and the music were just what I needed to get out of the audio rut I was in.

I listened to the Christian radio station for a long time… maybe a year or so. But, probably to no one’s surprise, everything needs to be taken in moderation, and it was about two years ago that I realized that the radio was getting in the way. It was keeping me from thinking through my day and through the challenges and opportunities I had with my career, my family, and my students. I needed to hear myself think and reflect.

The radio was noise that seemed to help the drive go by faster, but in reality, the drive goes by faster when you’re lost in your own mind.

So, I turned the radio OFF.

The Object

Radio silence.

And, I have not turned in back on. When it comes to turning off the radio to be with my own thoughts and remove all the noise, I actually prefer it. Nothing. Silence. Just the sound of the engine, the wind, and passing cars going too slow on the highway.

I’m not a stranger to long road trips where thinking about the “meaning of life” and other introspective investigations is possible. When I worked at Ohio University in Athens, OH teaching classes part-time, I had 8 hours of “windshield” time a week. I thought through my personal mission statement, what my personal brand is, and where I wanted to take my career. These self-discoveries became the foundation of my advice when people ask me to help them figure out what they want to do with their careers or advance professionally.

“Radio” 2.0

As much as I valued the windshield time and silence, my drives evolved to a balance of silence and audio. I still had that desire to keep up with shared knowledge, expand my thinking, and peer into others’ approaches to become “interesting;” at the same time, I needed to reflect and process.

This is when I began exploring podcasts. I invested in a Bose Bluetooth earpiece and downloaded the Pocketcasts app (highly recommended) and started listening to commentary, stories, and insights. Wow. Just wow. This is exactly the right balance of information and knowledge that I needed. I can’t count how many times I’ve referenced, linked to, or integrated a topic that I heard in a podcast into my conversations, interviews, networking events, or class materials for others to experience.

Radio 2.0. I know you’re curious now… so here you go…

Podcasts I listen to on the road:

The Lesson

There are many life lessons here to think about from a personal growth perspective, but there are also professional growth lessons.

The trick is… unless you know WHO you are and WHAT your purpose is first, you’re not going to grow professionally.

Until you find yourself, there will always be this inexplicable “itch” of wonder that you just can’t quite put your finger on about why you do what you do.

What you should take away…

  • Don’t be afraid to lose yourself in your own mind.
  • Reflection of thought leads to confidence and peace.
  • Invest in your own professional development. All the time.
  • Always seek more knowledge.
  • You never know what you will find on the road.

I’ve referenced the movie City Slickers in my previous Lesson from a Pumpkin Seed story, and I’ll do it again (it’s an awesome movie)… the meaning of life is one thing. You need to figure out what it is for you. Try turning off the radio.

What will you listen to next?

Written by Shaun Holloway.