Life is too short to figure everything out on your own. 

Humans spend the years from birth to 12 learning how to survive.  Our parents have a vested interest in helping us develop the Stop there: we merely survive. 

We live in a highly complex society.  There is intense competition for status in whatever hierarchy you compete in. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to compete or not, society and humanity are designed to compete for resources.  It is not those born strong that rise to the top of status hierarchies in today’s human society.  It is those who learn to use their capacities most effectively and adapt quickly to changes in the environment.  

There are two ways we learn to make positive progress in this society – 1) our own experience, or 2) through the experiences of others.  Our own experience is a slow and expensive way of learning. 

If I am to choose to learn most effectively, through the experiences of others, I must learn the art of meaningful conversation. Through my work with Entrepreneurs’ Organisation forum and Vistage groups I have worked extensively over the last 15 years on creating the type of meaningful conversation that allows one to learn from the experiences of another.

I’m sharing 4 ideas that I took from Jordan Peterson’s book the 12 Rules for Life when I read it this year.

“Your current knowledge has neither made you perfect nor kept you safe”

Your knowledge is insufficient. You must accept this before you can converse philosophically, instead of pushing opinions, convincing, oppressing, dominating or joking.  

“Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t”

It is necessary to respect the personal experience of your conversational partners. You must assume that they have reached careful, thoughtful, genuine conclusions (and, perhaps, they must have done the work that justifies this assumption). You must believe that if they shared their conclusions with you, you could bypass at least some of the pain of personally learning the same things (as learning from the experience of others can be quicker and much less dangerous).

It takes conversation to organise a mind 

“people organize their brains with conversation. If they don’t have anyone to tell their story to, they lose their minds.” The input of the community is required for the integrity of the individual psyche.    

“Life is short, and you don’t have time to figure everything out on your own” 

They say Aristotle was the last man who knew everything there was to know. Since the time of Aristotle (over 2300 years ago) society has become too complex for any one individual to know all that is known.  

When I was in school, I took huge value in solving from first principles. I would prefer to solve mathematic problems from first principles and avoid using formulaic recipes that allowed you to shortcut to a solution.  This was symptomatic of my whole approach to life. If I hadn’t figured it out myself, I didn’t value the knowledge.  There is a heroic valor to this approach, but it is dumb heroics.  

If you liked this post, you will also like How do I become a better listener and 50 Questions for better Critical Thinking.

Check out the full list of books I read in 2020.

 

 

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Mark Fritz, Vistage Expert Speaker

Mark Fritz is a regular Vistage speaker who is on a mission to end micromanagement around the world.  He is passionate about helping leaders create highly engaged organisations where every employee treats the business as if it were their own.

One of my favourite examples from Mark is his question: “why does nobody ever wash a rental car?”

Why Does Nobody Ever Wash a Rental Car?

Have you ever washed a rental car?  No.  It is not your car.  You give it back covered in muck and full of litter.  It’s not your problem.  Its someone else’s car.  It got you from A to B.

Many people treat their work like a rental car.  Do your employees treat your business like it is their rental car, or do they take care of it as if it were their own vehicle?

Leaders must be great at 3 things to create Success…

The 3 Necessary Conditions for the Success of your Organisation

Clarity – when things are clear, you take more action. When things are clear, everybody takes more action.

People – it is not your people that are your most important asset, it is your people pipeline. How are you developing the next generation of people?  If you are not developing people to replace your current leaders, your current leaders can’t grow into their next roles.

Influencing Skills – if your people can’t influence someone else on the team, where do they come to get help?  to you.  If your people can’t influence, they depend too much on you.

As a leader who really wants everyone to grow around you, you need to help people around you develop two abilities:

  1. Business Judgement
  2. Influencing Skills

Check out Mark’s short video from a recent Vistage open day in the UK:

Check out some of Mark’s recent blog posts:

Learning Business Judgement

I am biased.  I believe business schools are excellent at developing business judgement.  During the 19 months of my MBA program at IESE Business School, I worked through 650 cases.  Each case is a business decision.  Each case requires some individual work to practice your own ability to focus on what is important and develop a plan.  Each case then requires that you work with a small team to influence them about your plan, and to allow your ideas to be tested and changed by their influence.  Each case then requires that you enter a classroom with an excellent teacher who will take the discussion even deeper.  There is no better way to develop general business judgement than in the business school environment.

Learning to Influence

I have a vested interest in this.  I have taught over 44,000 business leaders, MBAs and political leaders to Speak more Powerfully – specifically to Move People to Action.  I would suggest you begin by taking my Speaking as a Leader online course (currently free).  You can also watch the playlist on my Youtube channel (over 70K subscribers) called Develop Your Speaking Skills.

 

Have a great summer.

Billionaire Ray Dalio is the founder of Bridgewater, one of the world’s largest and best-performing hedge funds.  Recently, Ray published his lessons in his book, Principles.

Here’s the opening paragraph of Ray Dalio’s book…

“Before I begin telling you what I think, I want to establish that I am a “dumb shit” who doesn’t know much relative to what I need to know. Whatever success I’ve had in life has more to do with my knowing how to deal with my not knowing than anything I know. The most important thing I learned is an approach to life based on principles that helps me find out what’s true and what to do about it.”

The Number 1 Hurdle to your growth and potential?

Closed Mindedness.

Closed Mindedness is not knowing that you don’t know (and not taking deliberate steps to overcome this natural human state).

You must learn to be Open Minded.

Here are some cues that will tell if you are Open-Minded.

  • Open-minded people are not angry when someone disagrees, Close-minded people don’t want their ideas challenged.
  • Open-minded people genuinely believe they could be wrong, Close-minded people are more likely to make statements than ask questions.
  • Open-minded people always feel compelled to see things through others’ eyes, Close-minded people focus much more on being understood than on understanding others.
  • Open-minded people approach everything with a deep-seated fear that they may be wrong, Close-minded people lack a deep sense of humility.

Read more about Ray Dalio and the dangers of Closed Mindedness on Carmine Gallo’s column on Inc magazine.

Question for you: Who is the person that challenges you and your strategies? Who helps you see new perspectives? Hit the comments down below and I’d love to hear who and how 😉

This video is about Sequoia Capital and their 3 rules for success in leading a business.  They make leadership feel very simple.. but it works. They have 30 years of track record of successfully taking on and turning around businesses.

Their rules are:

  1. 30/30
  2. 80/20 &
  3. the golden rule: 90/10.

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