Sometimes advice is hard to take and doesn’t quite make sense when we first hear it. There was one piece of advice I received early in my career that I was not ready to hear at the time but has made more and more sense over time. As with many pieces of advice it’s ultimately simple in theory but difficult in practice. The advice is simple:
When I received these words of wisdom I was very young in my career and had gone in like a steamroller on a situation. What I didn’t appreciate at the time is the nuance of the real world. When taking on a problem, a broken process, or something else that seems out of place the solution may seem obvious or simple but often there are reasons around a decision or process you may not know about. These reasons could be things like a particular executive wanting something a certain way and then by not understanding the nuance you end up angering someone higher up then you probably want to annoy.
While this seems simple, it can be difficult to implement. There are times I sit in some discussion listening to someone who has been doing something a certain way for twenty years and just want to discuss modernizing or improving but the approach has to be slow and thorough. Sometimes I don’t know a set of reasons why someone is doing something a certain way. Slowing down and investigating why or asking questions can increase your own understanding of the entire picture. This also helps your standing in that group or persons eyes as you then come off more introspective and emotionally intelligent in these types of situations. This also has a nice effect on getting your ultimate goal.
This is a lifelong activity. It’s difficult to check yourself in situations and force yourself to slow down but I promise you it is worth it. Remember Confucis say:
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
If you need an extra reminder you can always hang one of these up:
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