5 Rules to Tell the Perfet Lie

What is Leo writing? Is he stupid?

If you are asking yourself this question, I agree with you. In fact, if you follow me you know that I never, never use a 5 rules to kind of title. I sometimes write titles to give hints about the content of my articles, some other times to provoke a reaction, but this is the very first (and probably last, unless a meteorite falls on my head) time that i am using the 5 rules to format, the classic clickbait/inbound strategy.

What about lying anyway? How does that have anything to do with anything else?

Ok, I admit it. The lie is the title. This post is not about lying (I’ve written that one already), and I’m so not going to give you 5 rules to do anything.

In fact, this is the post where I talk about why you should never trust any 5 steps guide to do anything, because that is probably a sure way to fail.

Allow me to elaborate on that.

There is an important distinction between methodology, method and technique, that most people don’t take into consideration.

  • Methodology means literally study of the method
  • A method is a procedure, and a set of general rules that apply to a general field of research or set of situations (like the Scientific Method)
  • A technique is an instrument used to solve a specific problem, or a specific application of a method.

Now, as you easily understand, when you read a 5 steps guide, you are usually in the realm of technique, or even more specific applications of a technique. You may call it operative knowledge about a problem.

So what’s wrong with that?

Everything is. Because problem are born exactly this way.

When you take a technique, or a behaviour or a solution that in a specific situation works, and you try to apply to a completely new situation, you are creating the foundation for a problem.

Mind you, it could still work. Think about the classic 5 things every great leader does in the morning. Articles like these are wrong on so many levels that I find it difficult to start talking about it. First thing, they usually do not give a definition of leader, but they talk about generic charismatic or well known figures (that may not have that strong leadership skills). Then they give you some generic point to follow, as to imply that if you follow them, you may become a great leader. That could obviously be true, but then again, you are probably wasting your time.

One of my favourite is wake up before other people. If I tried to do that I would probably disrupt my circadian clock. I would loose all my productivity for the day, and possibly I would even feel ill.

I constantly use techniques, but when I do, i evaluate the situation. Think about the technique like the bisturi for a surgeon. There is not any specific impediment for anyone to take a bisturi in their hand, and start slicing someone up. But it takes the specific method of a surgeon to use that bisturi to heal, instead of to kill.

Next time you try to apply a technique, feel free to think about it in these terms. Think that you are slicing someone else with a bisturi, do you know what you are doing, or you are just doing it because someone on the internet told you to do it?

This is why method is far more important than techniques, and methodology even more than that.

You want a five steps guide to learn a method? Here it is.

  1. Read about how it works
  2. Study it
  3. Try to apply it
  4. Fail
  5. Repeat points 3 and 4 until you have a good gist of it.

Didn’t like it? Me neither. This is not a step by step guide, it’s a simple process to learn something new. The point is that the method is something you make yours with the experience.

But the only way to learn a method is to understand the methodology that is used to develop that method. For example, for me Strategic Communication and Problem Solving is the main method I use for my work, which uses many techniques. But the methodology is the Theory of Change, which is the principle that if you want to understand how something works you have to change it. This apparently simple principle allows to evolve your method, whenever you find yourself in a new situation, instead of blindly applying old techniques.

In the end, I didn’t really lie in the the title. The perfect lie is the fact that there can be a simple few steps way to indiscriminately apply to reach an objective. The ugly truth is that every situation is different, and if you want to be able to face it, you have to work on the method and methodology levels. You may be lucky, and techniques may be work for you, but think about it. If you are following their rules, but still are not as successful, that’s just because they are they, you are you.

So stop blindly follow rules, and start understanding the game.