Since I work with so many different companies around the world, I get to be around a lot of really smart people.
Not just the company Executives, but the Engineers, Designers, Sales and Marketing pros…
…I’ve yet to run into someone that wasn’t really, really smart.
On the other hand, I run into people all the time that are often too smart for their own good.
Put another way… your ability to over-think and over-analyze a problem is very often NOT an asset.
Put yet another way… what you KNOW can hurt you.
Most of the people I work with have had previous successes; at the company where I’m working with them, in jobs at previous companies, as independent contractors, in building their own companies, etc.
And in those past successes they’ve learned a lot.
That means they now KNOW a lot.
And when you KNOW something, that rightly becomes the foundation for – or otherwise shapes – your future actions.
But the problem is when what you KNOW doesn’t become the foundation for future actions…
…but instead becomes a barrier for future actions!
What you KNOW can hurt you!
It can stand in the way of allowing you to learn new things.
It can keep the new things you learn from taking hold because what you KNOW tells you “that won’t work here!”
What you KNOW whispers in your ear when someone introduces a concept that you tried 3 years ago and says “Hey… we KNOW that doesn’t work, man. Ignore it.”
I can’t tell you the number of times a CEO has brought me in to talk to her team and when I walk into the conference room, everyone is sitting there with their arms folded and scowls on their faces.
They KNOW what I’m going to say won’t work for them…
… and they want me to KNOW that too, before we even start.
Body language is huge – so much that it even comes across in Web Meetings, Skype… whatever the medium – and it tells me “I KNOW what you’re telling me won’t work here.”
It’s 10 times worse when someone tells me that they KNOW exactly what I’m saying, that they’ve heard it a million times (in an attempt to downplay my expertise and experience), but they also KNOW it won’t work for them.
You don’t have to do what I say and I’m happy to provide you with a handful of salt to take my advice with, but for the love of all that is holy…
… open your mind and just hear what I’m saying!
Sometimes I push back hard because it – frankly – makes me angry to see people so obviously shooting themselves in the foot like that…
… but more often it makes me sad.
It makes me sad that they’ll allow what they KNOW to keep them from moving forward.
It makes me sad on a human level… how what they KNOW will negatively impact their company’s success and therefore the success of all stakeholders in the company (investors, employees, family members…).
Look… I’m not asking you to be gullible… to buy into everything you read, hear, or see.
I’m not even asking you to believe everything I say.
That is less stupid, but seriously… I’m not asking you to believe everything I tell you.
Heck… I don’t even believe everything I say…
… I mean, I know that what I say is true when I say it, but I also know that everything is evolving and it could not be true tomorrow if I learn or experience something new… so we test.
The reality is, nothing is static – especially in business – which is why I’m so lucky to have visibility into so many different types of companies… and why what I share has the potential to be very relevant for you.
So what I’m asking you to do – for your own sake – is pretend you don’t KNOW what you think you KNOW.
Pretend that what you KNOW might not actually be relevant right now, for this situation.
Pretend that what you KNOW could be harmful and that you’d like to challenge it.
Suspend your disbelief that the person talking or writing couldn’t possibly KNOW something you don’t.
Consider the fact that you don’t KNOW what you don’t KNOW.
Then, with the barrier of your past experiences out of the way, you can really hear what the other person is saying.
And then you can take what they said, balance that against your past experiences – which shouldn’t be discounted at all, just used constructively – then a decision should be made.
Now, go out there and challenge what you think you KNOW… como un jefe (like a boss!).