A category of one

You are a person who belongs to a category of one.

Or probably better put in the words of somebody who knew better.

Every individual is an exception to the rule.

Carl Jung

That does not mean that you are alone, not necessarily. It means that you are unique. That what works for others, maybe will not work for you. That what others consider ok, maybe is not ok for you. That you have the full power to write your own story and to be proud of it.

Of course, it also means that others around you are unique. That they might have a completely different point of view. That they might see things that are crystal clear to you in a completely different manner. That they might argue with you, disagree with you, be mad at you, while still fulfilling their own unique story. And be proud of it.

This is scary and also exciting.

The way you look at that changes everything.

Because you care

Sometimes you listen because you want to know. Sometimes you listen because you care.

It might seem like a minor distinction, but the questions, the attitude, the subjects are very different whether it’s one form of listening or the other.

When you listen because you want to know, your questions are direct and closed. You look for easy answers, answers you can process and understand instantly. It’s usually about trivial topics, and the act of listening is in fact a way to reassure yourself that everything is as it should be.

When you listen because you care, your questions are wide and open. You are not even looking for answers. If they come, they will probably impact the person giving them much more than they impact you. It’s usually about deep change, and the act of listening is a way to unlock new potential.

On people and communities

It does not matter if you are a billionaire.

It does not matter if your new enterprise is going to make you a few more billions.

It does not matter if you are moved by mixed motives.

What matters is the impact you have on people and communities. And some enterprises have this much clearer than others.

Walls

We only see our side of the story.

That’s why when we go to someone with something that’s important for us, that becomes urgent.

That’s why when we read through an email we only notice the parts that confirm what we already know.

That’s why when we find new evidence we are sure that’s the one that will convince everybody.

And that’s also why we should be extremely careful when giving judgements, passing sentences, and building walls.

The target is to be convinced (of your values, your purpose, your views) and open (to other perspectives and versions) at the same time.

Can you do that?

Ranking opinions

A practical way to rank opinions.

  1. Opinions based on large datasets across similar situations. This is academic research or market research.
  2. Opinions based on limited datasets of the current situation. This is personal and direct experience.
  3. Opinions based on limited datasets across similar situations. This is personal and past experience or, typically, business books and good blogs, online courses, podcasts, etc.
  4. Opinions based on one or two datapoints across situations that might or might not be similar to the current one. This is anecdotical knowledge, and still where probably most online content nowadays fall into.
  5. Opinions based on beliefs and feelings. This is where most companies and teams die.

Aim for 1 or 2 when you have to make decisions that matter. Use 3 to broaden your perspective, but carefully understand how to filter through it. Entertain yourself with a controlled amount of 4. Run when people start arguing based on 5.

It would be fair to rank this post a 3.