Another night of drinking, another night of great company with my business partner. And the same theme keeps on re-appearing: business is all about people.
No matter big companies or startups, it seems what stops them from being successful is almost always about people issues (yes, more than timing and money). People not communicating (well) with each other, people misunderstand (worse, label – a topic worthy for another discussion) each other, and the king of them all….
People who think they have everything figured out (therefore impossible to communicate).
Yes, those who only talk and never listen…
Sure, we are all prisoners of our own minds. And it gets a bit schizophrenic if we constantly disagree with our own self. Yet, there is a key difference…
Wisdom really comes from appreciating two things.
1. Knowing what we know
This is about possessing knowledge, know-hows, creativity, experiences, or simply just being bloody smart. Problem is most of us think we ARE pretty smart. Worse, with the rise of the Internet, or more appropriately information overload, we all feel obligated to know just about anything. After all, we can find or learn most ‘knowledge’ on Google – our pathway to jack of all trades. Perhaps because of this, we forget the second one…
2. Knowing what we don’t know
Information (therefore partly knowledge) generated in the past decades since the Internet revolution has probably exceeded more than all of human history has generated. So by definition, with the explosion of Internet and generation of knowledge (and perhaps including AI), we are becoming, at least relatively speaking, dumber. Oh yes, there is a lot we don’t know. We disrespect hard earned skills more than ever. Humility is not about being nice but being confident with our boundaries.
Therefore appreciating what we don’t know, or the inability to have everything figured out, is vital. Especially our knowledge on others.
Being empathetic is a necessity, not just a hip thing to say in design thinking workshop.
Positivism is so 90s, we need to understand interpretivism/constructivism. There is no single/objective reality, realities are being interpreted and constructed by us. With our very own mind, guarded by prison-grade wire fence we constitute we as grow older, our own prison in knowledge is only going to get more restricted. Or in our Chinese way, that well that we are inhabiting is just getting deeper – with the sky looks just that little bit tinier.
So what should we do?
Influencing is more realistic than convincing;
Listening is more practical than talking;
Offering advices/opinions is a waste of time (unless it is purely knowledge base); and
Making the other person the best version of themselves is really the only realistic option.
Most of all, understand we could never figure everything out, especially people.