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Mike Nichols, RIP, what a life, what to learn about listening from his life

He won an Oscar, a Tony, an Emmy and a Grammy.

He achieved both popular and critical success.

“I’ve always been impressed by the fact that upon entering a room full of people, you find them saying one thing, doing another, and wishing they were doing a third,” Mr. Nichols said in a 1965 interview with the weekly newspaper The National Observer, now defunct. “The words are secondary and the secrets are primary. That’s what interests me most.” You only find the secrets from hard listening.

Did improvisation train him as a director, but how? Hard Listening. Improvisation is hard listening.

The life of Mike Nichols is really the success of America where he arrived as a child named Mikhail Igor Peschkowsky. His sense of being a stranger in a strange land was aggravated by the loss of his hair at age 4, the result of a reaction to an inoculation for whooping cough.

I worked on his original Broadway production of “Annie” and I used to watch Mike Nicholas working and I kept thinking what does he see that I don’t. But I know his observational skills honed at a young age, as a great watcher, contributed, As a young child his first two English sentences were, “I do not speak English” and “Please don’t kiss me.” This early alienation caused him never lost his outsider’s point of view. And an outsider always listens because his survival depends on it.

And listen and listen well he did. He listened hard. And listening hard is something that all successful people do as what they are doing isn’t about them its about them it’s about their audience. Whoever is sitting there and whose attention you want. It’s all about them and if they don’t get it, it doesn’t work for anyone.

Listening is a skill at a premium in todays world. There is too much shouting. Do the opposite. Learn to listen hard and your life will get easier.

Mike Nicholas NYTimes Obit: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/21/movies/mike-nichols-celebrated-director-dies-at-83.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=photo-spot-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

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