And a good second step is to pay closer attention to how you react to the avalanche of stimuli that hits you every day. As Joe Deitch wrote in his excellent book, Elevate: An Essential Guide to Life:

“Every idea, every person and every interaction provides an opportunity to observe how we react to life in its infinite expressions. When we pay close attention, we may notice that our reactions are expressions of our fears, desires and predispositions. Like a Geiger counter or a divining rod, our reactions provide critical clues at every step. If certain concepts, beliefs, situations or people rub us the wrong way—more than might reasonably be expected, or more than they affect others—we should see it as an opportunity to wonder why. What’s going on in our subconscious that we’re not fully aware of? What in our background might explain such a reaction?”

What you give disproportionate attention to could be a clue to where you should delve for deeper self-awareness insights. And the more self-aware you are, the less baggage and preconceptions you bring to each conversation. And this newfound awareness creates the space for a meaningful, “bringing forth” conversation to fill.

Self-awareness is like a direction. I can travel west and keep going and going and going. Likewise, with self-awareness, I can keep going deeper and deeper and deeper. And the deeper I go, the more meaningful my conversations will be.

Bring Forth
I recently published my 400th podcast episode across the three podcasts I host. Most of these episodes were conversations with one or more guests. And the most memorable of these were ones where through our conversation we brought forth, or gave birth to, new insights or ahas that had never been articulated before.

A discovery process that is simply a recitation of the facts is not a discovery process.

Discover, by definition, is about gaining sight of or knowing something that was previously unseen or unknown. So, when I say, “bring forth,” what I’m talking about is making a distinction between “the facts” of your client’s situation and “the connections between those facts” that generates a new realization.

For example, one of my advisor clients told me about a discovery conversation he had with a new client. Over the course of the conversation, they were able to bring forth some new connections and shortly after, the client sent him an email that said, “Leading up to this meeting, we thought it was money that was causing all the problems but…we realized there is more than money we need to work on and that we may be doing things counteractive to our goals as a family…”

These conversations that “bring forth” new insights and realizations don’t happen often. Even after 400 podcast conversations, I still feel like I have a long way to go to make this happen on a regular basis.

What I can offer you here is two-fold. First, be present to your conversations. Doing so creates the openness for new discovery to happen. And second, focus less on asking questions that lead to factual recitation and more on questions that lead to making new connections between past experiences and future possibilities.