Be swift to listen, slow to speak and slow to wrath – James 1:19.
Better advice or a clearer priority it is unlikely that you will get. Always start first with listening and then move on to speaking. This is basically Stephen Covey’s fifth habit – Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood – which stresses that first you should try to understand the other person’s situation and then, and only then, seek to make your point understood. This approach benefits from Cialdini’s doctrine of reciprocation which shows that once you have listened to the other persons’ points they are more likely to listen to your’s. Barack Obama is a master of this approach of dialog and you can see it throughout his speeches – first validating his opponents points prior to arguing his own.
Another corollary to all this is my the verse that my father made us memorize as children which is Ephesians 4:29. “Let no evil talk come out of your mouth except that which is good for edifying, fits the occasion and imparts grace to those who hear it.”
- A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind. Proverbs 19:2
Know your MO
Know what how you operate and listen to your body and your emotions. Spend some time getting to understand your wiring and take a step back and watch how you react to things. Meditation and dialog with others are the only way to figure this out. If you are at war with yourself you will certainly lose.
- Know thyself – Socrates
- The unexamined life is not worth living – Socrates
Right living comes from right action
If you want to be a certain way act in that way. Eventually your actions will cause you to be that way. So for example if you want to be seen a moral an ethical person act in a moral and ethical fashion and you will eventually be perceived that way. If you want to be seen as a social and vivacious personality act that way and eventually you will become the thing you are acting as.
There is, of course, a negative corollary to this which is if you act like an asshole eventually you will become and asshole.
There’s always a bigger fish
No matter how much you have of something – money being the principal thing – there will always be someone with more. Even if you are the richest person in the world you won’t be able to hold onto that title forever. Any goal the is purely denominated by having the most of a specific thing is inherently unattainable.
* “How much money is enough money?”…”Just a little bit more.” – J. D Rockefeller
Strive for local excellence
The question then becomes what does one choose to compete on? My answer would be local excellence which is the idea that excellence is a readily achievable goal in a defined context. This goal isn’t a mutually exclusive goal – an industry can have two excellent firms. Such an industry is ultimately good for both firms and for customers.
Local excellence is something that people can get behind and can be measured in terms of customer satisfaction, brand recognition and company growth rate. Excellence also needs to be recognized in the industry for it to achieve its full potential. Unrecognized genius is a cliche.