Sunday, April 7, 2013

Your congenital answer

You were born with one of four congenital answers. You default to it in the absence of skillful persuasion or overwhelming evidence. Your answer comes with possibilities and pitfalls.

Yes: You don't see roadblocks. You're open to opportunity. You get a lot done. People love you. At first. And then they start to bully you. They pile more and more onto your plate. You spread yourself too thin. Your lack of focus makes it impossible for you to finish anything well.

No: You're seen as a bully at best and an Eeyore at worst. You miss great chances to create new things. Your coworkers complain that you're not a team player. But they celebrate you after you're gone. Because all your jaw-jutting and arm-crossing protected your time and vision, allowing you to get a few things produced at a very high level.

Ask someone else: There is no upside to this as a default answer. It's a cowardly and lazy way to go through life. It makes it impossible for you to advance or take on new responsibilities. But you learn to rephrase your answer in a way that allows you to look like you're demonstrating leadership. "I know someone who could answer you more accurately. Let me take responsibility for connecting you."

It depends: You're intelligent. You think strategically. You want to accurately determine the scope of any request. But people get frustrated with you. Your probing reveals their lack of knowledge. They complain that you're evasive and wishy-washy. And you spend so much time defining problems you forget that sometimes you have the ability to reframe them and solve them on your own terms.

There is no best congenital answer. But identifying yours will help you recognize when you are truly solving a problem. And when you're just giving an answer that you can't help, one which was baked into your brain long ago.

[Ed. - This is one of those posts that started as a random Tweet and rolled around in my head for a week or so.]

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