People often comment that I have the ability to “get to the heart of the issue quickly” or “simplify seemingly complex issues.” When I get comments like this with some frequency, it triggers the question “How did I get here?” For I know that I wasn’t born with this ability.
In my efforts to answer the question “How did I get here?” I realized that the key to developing this ability is a simple two-step process.
Learn to trust that you have the ability to deal with any situation you face. If you doubt that, take a moment and consider this question “When in my life have I failed to deal with a situation in which I had no background or experience?”
If you’re truly honest with yourself, the answer is “Never.” It may not have been pretty and you may not have been successful on the first, second, or even the third iteration, but you got there.
As you learn to trust your ability to deal with anything that comes your way, you become a better listener. You no longer listen with judgment, anticipation or presumption. Our natural tendency is to respond with judgments we’ve made, with what we anticipate the person is going to say, or while presuming what the issue is. None of these serve us or others’ well.
When we realize that we can deal with anything effectively, we listen more carefully and allow the speaker to finish before trying to comment. That’s what makes step 1 so powerful. The next question is “What are listening for?”
In the second step you’re listening for incongruity. In other words, you’re listening for:
- Differences between what the person is saying and their behavior
- Conventional wisdom and what you’re observing
- Consensus and contrarian thinking
- Stated values & treatment of others
For it’s in the incongruity that you’ll discover the “heart of the issue” or “the simplicity embedded in seemingly complex concepts.” If I tell you that I want to lose weight while I’m holding a big, juicy burger in one hand and fries in the other, you may want to question my commitment to losing weight.
It’s also the reason that others often say to me “You don’t think like other people do. You look at the world differently than other people do. You see things other people don’t see. Yet what you say makes perfect sense.”
For Our Kids
If you want your kids to be able to see things others don’t see and, in doing so, become valuable to all whom they meet, use this simple two step process. You’ll not only simplify their lives, you’ll give them a huge leg up.
Now, if you really want to help them, you’ll begin using this process yourself. Kids emulate the behaviors of the adults in their lives. You can accelerate their learning, simplify your life and enjoy all the benefits these practices engender. Enjoy!