Don’t believe everything you think. Does that mean what you think is wrong? Does that mean everything up until this point is a lie? Of course not. It is a way to re-examine your thoughts and processes. Best practices are an example of not believing everything you think. A practice may be working smoothly, but that does not mean it cannot change for the better. A central location for communication is important to what I do. There is a common email and phone number we share for all communication with owners, managers, vendors, and tenants.
Not only is this system great for documentation but also creates a hive mind where anyone can pick up where the other left off and continue to produce. Creating this system is simple. Come up with an email address and start up a virtual office phone number. That part is easy. How to communicate effectively with this setup is a monster.
Every day there is a subtle nuance that improves the way this system works. We think the virtual office number is a great idea until the phone number got changed to a fax number. No phone calls coming in and complaints of eardrums being blown out by the loud ringing noise from a fake fax machine is not the best way to implement this system.
Once that is changed, now manipulating the thought process around this system. It is an extra step in making phone calls and sending texts, so it appears inefficient at the beginning. Why can’t I just make a phone call like normal and get things done quickly? Because in the back end, no one knows you made that phone call about the repair unless you write it down somewhere or update the team (often forgot).
This hive mind is a constant checking of what you know and what you thought you knew. The ego plays a large role in the personal challenging of what you know. If you consider yourself smart and you are the boss, your thoughts are rarely challenged. No one pushes back as they take orders from you. So who better to check yourself than you?
Constructive criticism can be difficult to take when you are a leader. A mentor can provide that but is not always around to see the daily inner workings of the operation. People offer advice indirectly through code words or phrases but do not share the truth in a matter of fact way.
You must challenge your knowledge base. You know yourself best. Where are you weak? Where are you strong? You do not know what you do not know. Use this as a basis for learning. Start to fill in those holes with knowledge. Start to broaden your perspective to eliminate blind spots.
Becoming a better listener is the basis for not thinking you know everything. Each person you speak to should be viewed as someone who knows something you do not. That factoid could be unrelated to the project or work, yet somewhere down the road, probably in conversation, you are going to bring it up and influence those around you.
You thought you would never need to know the Italian translation for espresso is “when something is forced out” until someone starts talking about how they love espresso, and you can hit them with this fact bomb. In return, he or she may have a fact for you about espresso, or you learn some more information about him or her as an individual.
Idea sharing is not a zero-sum game. If you possess information, and you share it, that does not mean you lose the information. Quite the opposite. You more than likely gain some information in exchange for yours. Your one idea turns into two. That is a 100% return on investment.
With return rates like that, why isn’t idea sharing more prevalent? It always appears like people hold their cards close to their chest as if sharing releases the secrets of the world. In reality, your idea is not so world changing and your audience may have already thought of that idea and bypassed it.
You are smart, but probably not the smartest. That statement is not a knock on your intelligence. It offers you room to grow and learn. This mindset should be freeing. There is no longer pressure to have answers at every turn. You can say, “I don’t know” and it is acceptable.
By listening, you start to learn from others. Imagine everyone you come in contact with as your professor for the moment. They have something you do not. That something may be a simple fact you can use in general conversation later, or they have the answer to your biggest obstacle currently.
The sources may surprise you. Someone could tell a story about their grandparents, and that gives you the idea to pick one direction over the other. Use lateral thinking to solve problems. Make the connections between their stories to your projects.
Idea sharing is one of the best investments you can make. You double your return instantaneously. The second you invest an idea in someone else, they will invest an idea in you. Those ideas, compounding over time, give you a plethora of information to choose from.
All of this influence comes from the original idea of not believing what you think. The uncomfortable state of being wrong can turn you into a powerful knowledge machine that gets stronger over time.
Christopher Cook, PMP, MSPM, has an extensive career in the construction industry. Throughout his career, he has been awarded over 40 construction projects that have yielded a 10% profit for each organization. He has a Bachelor’s of Science in Industrial Technology Management with an emphasis on Building Construction Management and Master’s of Science in Project Management. To find out more about him visit EntrePMeur. Christopher writes about strategy and cost management.