The Intelligent Thing To Do

“The test of a first-rate intelligence

is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time

and still retain the ability to function.”

—F. Scott Fitzgerald

Our environment today – business, social, the world – is filled with change, complexity and ambiguity. Unless you’re living a cloistered life, you just can’t avoid the challenges associated with this condition. So, what can you do to practice your first-rate intelligence, and leverage it to achieve more results and fulfillment in these challenging times? Here are a few things you can practice:

Don’t get angry, get curious – The “unintelligent” often attempt to create solutions to ambiguous conditions rather than accept their discomfort with them. Sometimes, they just get angry. However, the intelligent person becomes more curious, and asks the question “Why?” to reduce ambiguity!

Choose Words Carefully – Words have power; they underlie human connection. Leaders know this and choose their words and phrases carefully. They also know their words may not be understood the first time they are heard or read by others. Therefore, intelligent leaders are deliberate about adding clarifying definition, context and facts to their words and ideas. Doing so improves the human connection.

Go deep – Most conflict arises from deep-seated beliefs. “I just don’t get it” is a phrase you will not hear from an intelligent leader. If there is something they truly care about yet don’t understand, they go deep. They read, listen, and ask for more information, searching for facts and evidence. They seek input from diverse sources, enabling them to learn more about other points of view, and challenge their own beliefs as well.

Taking a 360 view of a situation (acknowledging and respecting all sides) can create mutual understanding. Skillful leaders know that mutual understanding (vs coerced agreements) will ultimately lead to long term problem resolution, and create new opportunities for all – the intelligent thing to do!

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