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The mask of the “good soldier”

One day my client, Raj, gets a call from the number two person at his company. She asks him to come to a brainstorming meeting on new names for a product. He gets a sinking feeling in his stomach.

He’s been to these brainstorming meetings before and sits there glazed-over thinking, “I’ve got nothing.” He knows his Native Genius doesn’t turn on in these situations, because his mind doesn’t work this way.

The “Before-Native-Genius-Raj” would have slogged through the meeting wearing the mask of the good soldier — on the outside pretending he’s involved and attentive, but on the inside, distracted, angsting, and self-conscious because he can’t think of names or how to add to the conversation.

The “After-Native-Genius-Raj” gave himself permission to do this. He told her that he wasn’t the best person for brainstorming the names, but would love to help facilitate a decision making process after they have a list of possible names. He offered help that would use his Native Genius.

You know what the number two person said? “That’d be great! I didn’t know who was going to do that. You’ll be perfect for that.” Win-win. She was happy with a better solution. Raj had that big-arms-in-the-air feeling inside.

The next time someone asks for help and your eyes glaze over, pause a minute before jumping in as the “good soldier”. Instead of blurting out “yes” — and then regretting it — think about a way that would be more fun and interesting. Offer that. That’s “engineering” for your Native Genius.

To bring more of your Native Genius to your work and life…


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