In a recent Pinkcast I watched with author Daniel Pink he talked about the importance of Intellectual Humility, which he describes as the ability to recognize what you think and what you believe might be wrong, understanding we all have cognitive blind spots.
Pink goes on to say that the best strategy he found on how to develop Intellectual Humility comes from four questions in Warren Berger’s book, The Book of Beautiful Questions.
Berger’s four questions to test your Intellectual Humility:
- Do I think more like a soldier, or a scout? (Soldiers defend positions; scouts explore new territory.)
- Would I rather be right, or would I rather understand? ( Long-term knowledge is way more valuable than a short term victory.)
- Do I solicit and seek out opposing views? (Instead of saying “Don’t you agree?” say, “Tell me if you disagree and tell me why.”)
- Do I enjoy the pleasant surprise of discovering I’m mistaken? (Being wrong isn’t a failure; it is a success because you just learned something new.)
One of the books I am currently reading is Principles by Ray Dalio. In this book Dalio dedicates a chapter to the importance of being Radically Open Minded. Many of his philosophies align with Berger’s four questions.
Both the concepts of Intellectual Humility and being Radically Open Minded remind me of the important advice from John Wooden, “Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who will argue with you.”
When I was the Sergeant of the Skills and Procedures Unit with the Calgary Police Service I was lucky enough to be surrounded on a daily basis by really smart people who were willing to argue with me. I still meet regularly with a few of those people and they continue to challenge the way I think. Now that I work from home I need to develop strategies to ensure the Intellectual Humility Daniel Pink talked about as it is too easy in an office of one to feel like you are the smartest person in the room. This is the reason I read so many books on a wide range of topics and listen to interviews with really smart people from diverse fields. While they are not speaking directly with me or to me their writings and their thoughts continue to challenge how I think and what I believe. Being surrounded by unread books on my book shelves and my iPad also continually reminds me how much I do not know. It is also one of the reasons I love attending the annual ILEETA conference, and why whenever possible throughout the year I sit down with really smart people who will argue with me and challenge my way of thinking.
It is important as trainers that we read books and listen to talks or interviews that will challenge the way we think and challenge us to examine our beliefs regarding the content and delivery of our training. It is also important to have interactions with people who are willing to ask you the tough questions and challenge your thinking and beliefs. It will quickly reveal our blind spots and whether or not we can articulate our beliefs or whether we just get mad and flustered when someone keeps asking us questions.
Developing strategies to ensure you remain Radically Open Minded and ensure you develop Intellectual Humility is critical as a trainer. It is not always easy, but it is important if you want to continue to learn and grow in order to best serve the men and women you have the privilege and honour to train. One way top accomplish that is to join the Excellence in Training Academy community where every week new content is posted to the Member’s Area that will challenge what you think and how you train. To join go too www.excellenceintrainingacademy.com and use the code eitblog to get the first month’s membership (Individual or Training Unit) at no cost.
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