How you think matters

In order to know how to act, you must know how to think. It’s not simple to change how you think.

I’m increasingly convinced that the reason so many organizations experience the same thematic challenges from year to year is because they are not willing to do the deep work required to change the way they think.

For me, this has meant reading and then trying to produce my own thinking on a topic. At Emplify, it means trying to deeply understand human psychology at work before building a specific solution.

It is why I abhor stupid articles intended to give quick tips and tricks to improve something as fundamental as employee engagement or as critical as your product marketing philosophy. Tricks don’t last. Tips are devoid of any real depth. So leaders end up like emperors with no clothes. There is nothing of depth after the tip or trick has been implemented. And more often than not, the suggestions are made by people who deeply understand the topic. The challenge is that they leave so much unsaid because they don’t realize the depth of their own knowledge. So you end up with not only shallow tips, but suggestions and processes that aren’t even complete because the suggester rarely has the introspection to describe in detail what they know.

That is why I write things like this —

Sure, it has some nice SEO value and on the surface seems like another quick tip guide. Click the link and read only a few paragraphs and you’ll realize this isn’t the case. The way you improve something is to understand it. There aren’t 10 “quick” ways to improve employee engagement. It is a fundamental issue in a company. There are 10 slow and hard ways to improve it. I don’t even describe those. I want to enable readers to have some lay of the landscape so that they can go learn on their own.

It’s like my 4 year old. He’s learning to read. I could give him 3 key tips to reading that help me —

  1. Push yourself to read fast, your brain can handle it
  2. Make sure you are not distracted and have a quiet place to focus.
  3. Don’t read when you are tired or else reading will become the trigger for sleep and you don’t want that.

But those are worthless to him. He needs the foundation. He needs to be empowered to learn on his own. First he needs to know basic phonetics. And then sentence structure. From there he can essentially learn the rest on his own. The tips I give above are master level compared to where he is today.

We need more of this in business today. There are too many shallow thinkers who are the metaphorical “get rich quick” schemes in business. They steal other people's time, drown out real thinking, and ultimately provide little value to society.