You are smart. Yet a few invisible habits hold you back. Through the years, I had the privilege of observing some of the smartest people. Here are what I found holds them back.
- Linear Conversation
About 9 years ago, during training in Europe, one of the coaches took me aside on the last day and shared, “do you know what camp you fall under?”
I gave him a dazed look. He added, “Non-linear thinker. Do you know what you need to be aware of?”
I figured it was best to listen, he added, “Thinking can be non-linear. When you articulate your thoughts — it is most comforting for audience when it is linear.”
I have observed conversations since. There is some truth to what he said — but not 100%. Some great minds are all over the map when they communicate. Others pursue the rigor of depth with linear narration but run out of time or burn out before reaching the destination.
The selective few — state the end with a summary and then pursue the linear narration.
2. Climb up the U
When it comes to decision, many go with their gut. That is the top start of the U [left side]. The “rigorous few” call this top of the U — the hypothesis to test. They glide down the left side of the U — reach the depth of the weeds and nail the details.
Many smart folks stay in the details and surround with others in the same smart swamp. They are perceived well by others. Words that echo — “I am sure he knows what he is doing, I just can’t relate. It is over my head.”
Chosen few climb the other wall of the U to the top. Now with synthesis of the essence they can communicate with both camps — detailed engineers who verify hypothesis and those who chose to stay with the hunches.
3. Comfort Before Content
At get go, a deep dive into the subject at hand — works for a Ph. D. dissertation. What got you there, sometimes keeps you there. What propels select few are genuine words of acknowledgement prefacing counterpoints (I hear you, I see where you are coming from). Or words of curiosity that showcase a self-belief to learn (why do you say that? help me understand better etc.)
How, What, When, Which, Where- these questions are implicitly answered by many in their conversations. Select few focus first on the why. The answer to the why gives context better and in the process provides a different type of comfort too.
4. The difference between precise and accurate
I dwell deep into the details of this difference that changed the course of my career. Suffice to say, a picture is a thousand words. Here is an illustration of why “Be more accurate than precise” is a great lifeline.
In practical terms, a priority within priorities achieves that — the heart of the algorithmic success of Google and a central tenet of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective people — first things first.
Coagulating all together
Book smart is one thing and being worldly wise is a whole another.
Super smart folks get things done — no matter what — because they can. The resourceful few manage expectations, pivot the linear narration with end first, try to be accurate first before being precise and adore the value of the “U”
What about you? What resonated with you? What is your belief system that propels you?
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A geek who learns from daily experience,