“We can’t light the room with all of our knowledge, if we don’t know how to use the switch.”
As a founder, leader or entrepreneur I’m confident you and your team will have spent countless years crafting your area of expertise, whether that’s as a marketer, technologist, lawyer, scientist, programmer, finance or HR professional.
I’d put money on it that you’re all exceptionally knowledgeable.
As a result, you become established and recognised for it. The paradox of being a pro is that it keeps you within the parameters of what you know, wedded and anchored to your thinking, concepts and ideas.
When this happens, unfortunately, the downside is that we can get a bit fixed; we look for the certainties and what’s possible rather than for the extraordinary and the impossibilities.
The issue, is this, believing we know all there is to gain limits us from learning anything new or having new experiences.
On this, we don’t mean you won’t pick anything new up, as someone who’s smart you will, but what I am pointing to is a learning that enables you to grow in awareness, I guess another word for this could be wise-ness. You know those people you go to for help who always seem to know what’s going on and say something that makes you think?!
Well, what we have discovered with our clients is that when they drop out of their heads, and who they think they are, should or ought to be, they start to relax. They gain fresh insights, ideas and new ways of looking at something. They show up with an open, curious, beginner’s mind — which gives them, even more, knowledge, just when they need it.
I know, it sounds counterintuitive, it makes more sense to try and hold on to our intellect — all of it — just in case we need it. Like carrying around a heavyweight badge or trophy, after a while it feels heavy.
How many times have you been to join a meeting as the “expert” or the “chief of something”?
How did that go for you?
If you’re anything like my clients, sometimes it’s cool, and you impress the client or stakeholder, but other times, the words just wouldn’t come, and you end up beating yourself up, tripping out about when you’re going to ‘get found out’.
Thankfully, our knowledge doesn’t leave us, but sometimes when we get in our heads about something, we can’t fully access it.
There comes the point in our career when we realise something else is going on; there’s something else that’s driving our ability to perform consistently.
As the American author and coach, Marshall Goldsmith puts it:
“What got you here won’t get you there.”
Just when you thought you were where you needed to be, you realise there is more to learn, whether that’s about the business, others or yourself. However, like any good brickie would say, ‘you must have a solid foundation if you’re going to have a strong superstructure’.
Maybe you’ve just realised you have spent the last say 20 years, learning from things outside of you, without really understanding the principles that guide you, what makes up your foundations, the elements that play together each day to give you either a good or a bad day, a breakthrough or a breakdown.
Whether you are consciously aware of them or not, together they form the missing driver behind our personal, team and business performance.