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Why ‘if only I had said this’ is the wrong strategy

 In Delivery, Luminary

“Understand the greatest generals, the most creative strategists, stand out not because they have more knowledge but because they are able, when necessary, to drop their preconceived notions and focus intensely on the present moment. That is how creativity is sparked and opportunities are seized”.

This is a quote form p.21 of Robert Greene’s great book, The 33 Strategies of War. The point of sharing the quote is this. Most of the time in under-pressure situations, the person who has the most options, readily available to deploy, wields the most power.

For example, in my Listen and speak under pressure programme I provide participants with numerous options to respond to any type of pressured interaction.
However, at certain times, as Greene describes above, it’s wise to ignore those options. Green further elaborates on this topic below:

“In looking back on an unpleasant disagreeable experience, the thought inevitably occurs to us: if only we had said or done x instead of y, if only we could do it over . . . The problem, though, is not that we think of the solution only when it is too late. The problem is that we imagine more knowledge is what was lacking . . .

What makes us go astray in the first place is that we are unattuned to the present moment . . . applying ideas that we digested long ago but that have nothing to do with our predicament in the present. More books, theories and thinking only make the problem worse:

The ‘how to apply’ for this post: In certain under-pressure situations and interactions, drop your prepared template options, back yourself, focus intensely on the present moment, and react to that moment.

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