60 Seconds: Penguins for What Did They Say? What Did I Hear?

–How might penguins help us listen better? Listen here.

Coming to you from Whidbey Island, Washington this is 60 Seconds, your daily dose of hope, imagination, wisdom, stories, practical tips, and general riffing on this and that.

A man drives into a filling station and asks the attendant to fill the tank with gas. The attendant sees 3 penguins standing on the back seat of the car and tells the man, “Hey! You should take those penguins to the zoo.” The man says, “Good idea!” And drives away.

About a week later the same man returns to the filling station and asks the attendant to fill the tank. The attendant sees the same 3 penguins but now they’re wearing sunhats, sunglasses, and beach sandals. He says, “Hey I thought I told you to take those penguins to the zoo!”  “I did, replied the man, and we had such a good time today we’re going to the beach!”

Practical Tip: When in conversation with someone ask yourself:

  • What did they say?
  • What did I hear?
  • Was it the same, or different?


Diane F. Wyzga
Diane F. Wyzga
Remember the first time you rode a bike and took your hands off the handlebars? And then because it felt fun and daring you did it again - and again - riding down a hill with the wind in your face, arms up over your head screaming, “Look, ma! No hands!” You showed up. You did it. The arc of my professional career stretches from serving as a US Navy officer and nurse, corporate businesswoman, lawyer, platform storyteller, and professor before shifting into a solopreneur as a litigation consultant, wordsmith-er/editor, noted podcaster, and story consultant who was lucky enough to scuba dive the Continental Shelf, become a pilot, hike the Rocky Mountains with Outward Bound, kayak off the coast of Mexico, parachute out of a perfectly good plane, walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, and so much more. Over my lifetime I've been letting go of the handlebars but - just as often - having my fingers pried off when I’ve been most afraid. At some of the darkest moments in my life where the true way was wholly lost to me, a person or opportunity beckoned and I said "Yes!" That’s the place where the story changed. This is my life purpose: Helping women identify, sort out and transform unclear messages into confident, connection-making stories, and those stories into powerful sequels. How? 30 years of story work in courtrooms, boardrooms, universities, retreat settings and more has taught me that story principles are key to conscious connection. Together we distill hazy ideas into easily understood metaphors and direct emotional language using words with power, passion, and precision so your message, your story rings true and achieves desired outcomes. My media company has three interlocking components: Quarter Moon Story Arts: "Shaping stories into sequels." Stories From Women Who Walk (podcast): "Like magic, the sorcery of stories is this: they help each of us to be seen and heard, to understand and be understood." My Life As Compost (blog): "What matters in our life is not what happens to us but how we respond, transform the difficulty into advantage, and tell *that* story."

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  1. Diane — First of all, I loved your post. What a great message. As a coach, I was taught to listen to my client and then come back with “What I hear you saying is….” ESSENTIALISM author Greg McKeown is a master at this technique on his podcast where he often does on air coaching.

    Next, your profile…. All in one lifetime? My inner critic poked me as I read it and said “What a loser you are compared to her!” I sent it to stand in the corner.

    Finally, Mac’s session with us on Synopsis 360 is on a Tuesday, so you must join us! Our upcoming session is on May 4th, a Tuesday, from 12-1 EST. Laura Staley will be leading it. Let me know if you want additional details. Would love to have your voice there.

    • Hello, Jeff!
      I’m still figuring out all the avenues & back alleys here.

      Thank you for the Atta Girl! on the Penguin post. You and I are Simpatico in the mirroring; it’s what I was taught as a young nurse.
      I’ll check out Greg McKeown – there is always so much to learn.

      LOL! on the profile – that’s just the stuff I was allowed to print. Funny thing isn’t it: that Comparison Gremlin we have going on. I remember a talk given years ago by a story mentor of mine. A very accomplished and wonderful teller and human being. He was recounting for us a time at a story conference when he was in a workshop room adjoining that of another accomplished and wonderful teller. There was all sorts of laughter coming from that adjoining room; but because the topic in my mentor’s room was a little more serious there was no laughter. And he was wondering what was wrong with him. I tell ya’ this will follow us and all we can do is say, Thank you for sharing. Go stand in the corner

      In re: Synopsis 360, thank you for the correction – I was looking at May.
      Mac Bogert is Tuesday 1st June 0900 PDT!
      And, now there is an earlier one on 4th May at 0900 PDT with Laura Staley.

      Both mornings are open right now

      A little help please on how to register for both ~ Diane

  2. Hey, Mac ~

    Yes, that is an old chestnut! It still makes me laugh. I think I take after my mom’s dad who loved Red Skelton & like him always laughed when he told a joke.

    Thank you for the invite to the Symposium – I’ll give it a go; I try to keep the weekends in a Device Free Zone. Maybe there will be a recording?

    Meanwhile I’ll check the blog in advance of a chat.

    Every good and kind wish ~ Diane

  3. Thanks, Diane.
    One of my favorite stories, and it’s been too long since I remembered it.
    We all do have different dictionaries – when we listen, we are, in fact, translating.
    Please come and visit on June 1 at the Synopsis 360 dialogue (12-1 EDT). The topic is “Beyond Knowledge” and includes this blog, which ties in great with your post.
    It would be a pleasure to talk some time . . .