A Diagnosis Turned Into Motivation: How One Man Re-Learned How to Hear with the Beatles and Practice

“We all HEAR all the time, but we don’t LISTEN all the time.” —Matt Hay

Okay, so we’ve all practiced something before, right? When I hear the word “practice,” my brain instantly swirls with things like golfers teeing up at a driving range or a musician mastering a piano riff or a chef nailing a new dish in the kitchen. But rarely do I think about re-learning something as practicing. Retraining and rewiring my brain to think and work in a way that’s different than it once was. Until now.

This week on the Practice First podcast, we had the privilege of learning from someone who literally practiced hearing after losing his ability to hear in college. And guess what? He figured it out. With hours and hours of intentional, thoughtful practice, and with a little help from his friends, (yes, we’re talking about the Beatles).

Ready to hear the whole story? Well, my friend…

…Meet Matt!

Join me in welcoming Matt Hay to the Practice First podcast! Matt is the Director of Audiology Sales at Redux. To give you some backstory on him, he was a sophomore in college when he was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) — a disorder that affects about 1 in 40,000 people and resulted in full hearing loss. A diagnosis like this is undeniably life-altering, but for Matt, it was also majorly motivating. He made lemonade out of lemons and literally taught himself how to hear again.

In the early stages of Matt’s journey with NF2, he practiced his way back to hearing, and used music to do so. His inspiring story has even been optioned as a movie (with Channing Tatum, no less). Honestly, I feel like Matt tells his story best, so I’m gonna let him do the talking. Check out his episode right here! 👇

Here are the main things I’m taking away from Matt’s episode:

👍 Intention and commitment are essential to making progress.

🎵 He listened to the same ten songs every day—for years. It was the Beatles and O.A.R. on loop for this guy, and he studied the patterns, the beat, the instruments—everything—as he relearned how to hear.

💛 Empathy matters, and it’s so different from sympathy. People desire to feel understood, heard, and related to, never pitied. Matt experienced both, and through his own experience, he better understands now how to be more empathetic with those around him.

📋 Planning became a secret weapon to understanding clients and succeeding at work. Matt’s an expert at intentionality after what he’s experienced in his life, so he’s applying those lessons in his professional life at Redux, and they’re working.

“It’s just the way things sound now.”

A quote that sticks out to me from Matt’s episode is this: “It doesn’t sound different, it’s just the way things sound now.” His audiologist said this to him early in his journey, and Matt’s response was to accept it with grace, but only for the time being. He was bound and determined to change his new normal into something that was functional, both for his professional benefit (he studied marketing at Indiana University and wanted to use that degree!) and for his personal benefit (he wanted to hear the voices of his loved ones saying “I love you.”) I’m not sure why this quote sticks out to me so much, but it does. I like the candor of his doctor and the resilience and grit Matt shows in his response.

Matt, if you’re reading this, thanks for joining us and sharing your story. Our hosts loved having you, and our listeners will love learning from you.

And for everyone else, if you want to learn more about Matt from Matt, check out this blog post he wrote for the NF Network earlier this year. 

One more thing…

Oh, and as always, we’d love to hear from you! You can connect with our hosts on social media (Conner Burt or Ben Battaglia) or shoot them an email at practice@lessonly.com if you want to chat more about practice, if you learned something from Matt, or if you know someone we should talk to in future episodes!


Practice First is produced by Lessonly

Our training software helps over 1,000 business teams across the globe learn, practice, and do Better Work. Learn more and listen to more episodes at lessonly.com/podcast!

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