The DANGER of PREconceived NOTIONS

 In Author, Delivery, Entrepreneur, Environment, Listening, Luminary, Meetings, Message creation, Mindset, News, Q&A, The Winning Voice

‘In looking back on an unpleasant or 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.

Many a general has lost his head in the heat of battle and then, looking back, has thought of the one tactic, the one maneuver, that would have changed it all.’

This quotation is from p 21 of the landmark book, The 33 Strategies of War, by Robert Greene.

Consider this:

Like the general mentioned above, have you ever thought after a challenging experience – that if only you had said x or y, you would have succeeded in the situation?

The quotation continues below.

‘The problem though is not that we think of the solution when it is too late. The problem is that we imagine that knowledge is what was lacking: if only we hand known more, if only we had thought it through more thoroughly.

This is precisely that wrong approach.

What make us go astray in the firs place is that we are unattuned to the present moment, insensitive to the circumstances.

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 preconcieved notions and focus intensely on the present moment.’

Why do I mention this.

In my work with clients I share numerous schemas for the various types of interactions and presentations they face. (One example, is my five step ‘Think on your feet’ schema, listed below).

However, aligned to the above message, and as a caveat, I tell my clients that at times, they should ignore the schemas and focus intensely on the present moment.

Own the Conversation

In the next seven days in safe interactions/presentations:

  • Trial NOT, using you tried and true templates, patterns, schemas – in responding to certain situations – and focus intensely on the present moment.
  • Reflect on the results of doing this.


Think on your feet schema (for difficult questions)

  1. When being asked a question, nod engagingly and picture the letters DBAE (Don’t Be Anywhere Else) on the questioner’s forehead.
  2. Say ‘Tough question’ or ‘That’s a challenging one’ (if appropriate).
  3. Say ‘Give me a moment to think about that’ (then ‘park’ the audience go inside your head for four seconds).
  4. Say ‘Top of mind’ or ‘On first thought’ (and then speak your thoughts).
  5. If nothing comes to mind, say, for example ‘I don’t have a fixed view on that’.

 p.s. A real leader’s authority comes from the power we give that leader, and we give them power because of the way they make us feel.

We like the way they make us feel in their presence. We like the way they persuade us to work harder, to listen ourselves, and to dream bigger than we ever imagined’.   David Foster Wallace

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