I have become familiar with the study of heuristics over the years. If I keep it simple, heuristics are mental shortcuts that help us make decisions and judgments. I learn a lot from thinking about how I come to decisions particularly when faced with complex issues.
A student raised his hand during an MBA guest lecture some years ago and said to me, “Thanks for telling us about the barriers you overcame to succeed, but could you tell us how you overcame them?”
My worldview has been shaped by paradox. Here are a few of my favorites.
- You can’t sell when you’re talking
And yet most salespeople “show up and throw up”. One of my early mentors taught me that “if you spend 30 minutes with a prospect and they speak 27 of those minutes, they will think YOU are a genius”. It stuck throughout my corporate and entrepreneurial career and I think it’s been life changing. Great salespeople are great listeners and only speak at any length AFTER they fully understand the client’s issues. Even then, they pause frequently to say, “did I get that right?”
This concept goes double in personal relationships which I also see as the continuing process of “selling each other”. I must “seek first to understand, less be understood”. I find rich irony that great sales advice comes from the Bible.
The homily last Sunday was centered on the theme, “where does it hurt?”. Our priest’s point was that you cannot identify how to fix what ails you until you know what is really causing the pain.
My first thoughts are generally good. At this age and with my experience, I suppose they should be. But first thoughts are still only that: first thoughts. They should be only the beginning of a process of exploration. Rarely do first thoughts stand the tests of time and season. And clinging to first thoughts by resisting new facts is a path to ignorance. Second thoughts and third ones take more time and deliberation, but the payoff is substantial. This month’s article (see below) is “Second-Order Thinking” by blogger Shane Parrish (www.farnamstreet.com). Parrish is a thought leader in the financial investment community and his article is based around Howard Marks’ new book, “The Most Important Thing”. Their thoughts are deep and informative. First and second level thinking can be applied to every decision we make in life: acquiring or leaving a home, a car, a business, a partner or a friend as well as developing our values, political views and spirituality. Where are you stuck in first level thinking? · Lost a friend because they “did something”?