Dan Waldschmidt

by Dan Waldschmidt

July 3, 2012

You Might Be The Idiot You Think They Are.

Most of your success in life hinges on your people strategy. Having good relationships requires good people strategy. So does landing a job, being promoted, or demanding the compensation you think you’re worth. At every level of the executive landscape, understanding people is vital to your ability to achieve the results you want. Some have ascribed this idea of people strategy as “emotional intelligence” or “good people skills”. Regardless of your terminology, it is critical for you to understand the emotions that drive human behaviors.

That begins with understanding how you think.

How your brain makes decisions. What your default decision-making process really is.

The best people strategy starts with understanding your own humanity. In other words, before you play doctor on those around you, you have to be able to cure you. Or at least understand what the cure for you is.

The human brain is a complex computer, ingesting millions of data points from our senses every few minutes, and rendering instantaneous analysis and options based on your experience and education. Despite all the complexity that is involved, the human brain consistently defaults back to a few primal instincts.

  1. If a decision is boring or expected, the brain just ignores it.
  2. If a decision is too complex, the brain dramatically summarizes it.
  3. If a decision is threatening, the brain makes us stay and fight or run away.

Subconsciously, you revert to one of these activities as your brain attempts to capture, catalog, and understand what is going on around you.

And inside you.

Your own emotions are a curiosity to your brain. Imagine how confusing it is for your brain to correctly interpret emotions that come from another brain.  Without focus and discipline to proactively rearrange how your brain drives instantaneous emotion, you are left confused — reacting irrationally to the data your brain is capturing.

Which in turn has longer-term consequences. You alienate allies who could help you achieve your goals. You fail to motivate those around you to follow you. You fail to discern and fix core issues driving underperformance.

These consequences are directly tied to status and wealth and accomplishment.

What you think of as success.

You can’t be an emotional nit-wit and expect to produce the logical outcomes that you believe you deserve. Your lack of awareness about your own vulnerabilities cripples your ability to spot opportunities, solve problems quickly, and build momentum towards successful outcomes.

There are three key emotions that drive your internal people strategy. If you understand these three key emotions you’ll find yourself with the people strategy that drives high-performance. Both internally and with those around you.

  1. Pain plays a big factor in human behavior. Avoiding pain is a subconscious activity that escalates over your lifetime. As bad experiences leave scars on your memory, you tend to become less and less willing to engage in activities that lead to pain. Even a possibility that pain might occur is a limiting factor in making life choices. You need to be aware of it so that it does not immobilize you. Especially when an activity is particularly difficult.
  2. Fear drives every decision you make. All your memories are stored in the context of fear. Your brain is constantly building up its catalog of activities and behaviors that it finds especially emotionally traumatic. You might say irrational. It is valuable to understand what causes your fear and then to be active in challenging your fears. From what we know about the brain, activity of almost any sort significantly counterbalances the parts of the brain that create fear.
  3. Love is the greatest rehabilitating force on the planet. Being in love unleashes powerful healing attitudes that force the brain to find the most optimistic perspective to any specific circumstance. Even observing love is powerfully rehabilitating. So is demonstrating love. To yourself and to those around you. You can heal your own fears and pain by demonstrating love when you least feel like it.

You’re a human.

Limited by the capabilities of being human. Concerned by the nuance and unpredictabilities of the other humans you live and work and play with.

Without a human strategy that accepts the frailty of yourself, you can’t be aware of the emotions that drive the decisions of those around you. You’re left puzzled, mustering conclusions that are unhelpful and self-limiting.

A better strategy is needed. One that’s honest and kind. Patient and relentless. Completely human.

Maybe everyone around you isn’t an idiot.  Maybe your emotions are making you one.

About the author

Dan Waldschmidt

Dan Waldschmidt doesn’t just talk about leveling up. He’s obsessed with it. He's set records as an ultra-runner and been the personal strategist for the leading business leaders of our time. He wrote a book, called EDGY Conversations that accidentally became a worldwide bestseller and continues to share his insights from the stage as a keynote speaker and on the blogs and podcasts you will find here. Most days, you'll find Dan heads-down, working on breakthrough strategies for his clients at EDGY Inc, a highly-focused, invite-only, business strategy execution company based out of Silicon Valley.