I am easily confused…and often bemused. By situations, discussions, conversations and presentations. Good news – I am easily confused because I am exposed to a great deal of very different and complicated topics. Bad news – I don’t know or understand very much. I like the ‘good news’ option here….
Best news is that I am easily amused. I laugh a lot – always at myself, often to myself; frequently out loud especially when there is no-one else around; and as much as possible with other people – especially at work. I enjoy the work that we do. I enjoy myself at work. I take what we do very seriously, and I am committed to us doing our work as well as we possibly can. But I try to avoid taking myself too seriously.
Laughter and happiness is an indication of enjoyment, of satisfaction and of fun. Of course we have to choose situations where we laugh or where we don’t – but enjoying life, enjoying our work and enjoying the people we have opportunity to work with – is very important to me. We all spend a lot time and expend a lot of energy at work – it seems only appropriate that we enjoy ourselves in exchange for that investment.
But despite all that enjoyment and satisfaction, I still frequently find myself confused. I hear things and see things that just ‘don’t make sense’. Things I just ‘don’t understand’.
Often these situations are east to explain. If I am at dinner with a group of US colleagues and our discussion moves onto the vagaries of US healthcare or US taxation then it doesn’t make sense (to me) because I don’t understand. But that’s OK. I don’t live in the US, I don’t benefit from US healthcare and I don’t pay US taxes…so why would I expect to understand?
In situations like these I accept and even appreciate my ignorance. I listen to the discussion but don’t – or even can’t – significantly contribute. Conversely, the UK National Health Service does make sense to me…as does our Value Added Tax and our Road Tax…but please don’t ask me to explain them to anyone else.
Nevertheless, I frequently find myself in conversations about our work, our industry, our business, our partners, our people or our locations where I realise that things being said or actions proposed simply do not make sense to me.
And these are moments. Moments where I realise that I must be missing something.
It’s far too easy to assume that what I am proposing or suggesting is right. It is not. Rather these are moments where what I believe we should do or say is simply based on what I understand and believe. If an individual or team believe or suggest something different then – by definition – I must be missing something.
If something does not make sense to me then I am missing something…something crucial or something significant. And that is what I have to understand. What are they seeing that I do not? What don’t I appreciate that they know? How have they interpreted data that I have misunderstood?
At moments when I do not understand or when something makes no sense to me. I ask. I seek to understand. After all, whatever I am missing…no matter how big or small…could be the missing part of the puzzle. Information that if combined with what I see and believe will change everything.
I often get feedback that I am inquisitive. I take this feedback as a positive and with pride. It means I do not understand. But I have decided not understanding is a good thing.