Sponsored by Forest Grove Economic Development
Home Blogs Business tips It's hip to be square

It's hip to be square

| Print |  Email
Business tips
Friday, April 26, 2013

BY TOM COX | BUSINESS TIPS CONTRIBUTOR

04.26.13 Blog SquareI’ve recently come to realize it’s hip to be square.

I decided this some months ago when I was helping present a powerful workshop to a corporate group, and one participant – let’s call him Joe – almost missed the boat. Joe is young and bright, and based on raw talent, intelligence and ability, could have gotten more out of the workshop than anybody else in his company.

But he didn’t – in fact, he almost got no value at all. I’d missed (until almost too late) seeing his attitude. He was aloof, impressed with his own cleverness, and was hiding his insecurities (we all have them) behind a facade of sophistication.

That facade of sophistication took the form of being critical of others.

I finally caught on when we were reviewing the major learnings of the workshop. Everybody was asked, what did you like best, or, what lesson will you take from this?

And everybody had an answer except Joe.

When it was his turn, he was a little at a loss for words, then started to offer us – I’m sure in a constructive spirit – some critiques for how we could do a better job with our workshop. I was actually very interested in that (as I always am in critiques of my performance) but my co-presenter stopped him. “We’ll ask for feedback later. This question is for your improvement, not ours. What did you like? What did you learn?”

Joe had no answer.

Afterwards we presenters debriefed, and my co-presenter described Joe as being pseudo-sophisticated. I realized I’d been doing the same sort of thing for years – distancing myself from things around me by viewing potential lessons as all being lessons for other people, not lessons for myself.

John Milton said “a wise man will make better use of an idle pamphlet, than a fool will do of sacred Scripture” and I realize in my fear of seeming “square” I had been playing the fool. Like Joe that day, for years I’d missed learning because I was trying to be “cool”. Learning takes risk and openness. Criticizing others is safe and closed, imposing an intellectual and emotional distance and detachment. How much more would I have learned by now if I’d been less “sophisticated” and more open – more square?

Happily, after Joe’s turn was his President, who had learned a lot and shared his enthusiasm freely. This provided the example I think Joe needed. (And this provided another lesson in the power that leaders have in modeling positive behaviors for others.) I could almost see Joe mentally replaying the workshop in his head, looking for what he liked, for what he could learn. In a somewhat sheepish way he shared it with the group, and I could see he was out of his comfort zone.

He was being square. And I decided I’m going to be more square too.

Tom Cox is a Portland area consultant and executive coach. He helps leaders exceed their business aspirations.

 

Comments   

 
Guest
0 #1 Embrace the SquareGuest 2013-04-26 19:15:55
Tom, I appreciate your article. It reminds me of the idea that the insecurity within us often makes us want to appear to be right or competent even if we're not. Sometimes we humans will scratch and fight to find some justification or rationalization to support our erroneous position because at that moment it is more important to us to appear right than to actually be right. The difference as you said is to have an open and "square" attitude, seeking for the truth of the situation, not to satisfy our vain pride. -Doug Lundrigan
Lighthouse Business Solutions
www.lighthouse4business.com
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Attack of the Robin Sages

Contributed Blogs
Monday, July 07, 2014
070714 thumb linkedinfakesBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Named after the 2010 experiment by Thomas Ryan, "Robin Sages" are fake social media profiles designed to encourage linking and divulging valuable information.


Read more...

Podcast: Interview with Pete Friedes

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

082714-thumb friedesbookTom Cox interviews Pete Friedes, author of "The 2R Manager," about becoming a Best Boss.


Read more...

Community colleges and sustainability

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 31, 2014
sustainabilityBY MARY SPILDE | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Faced with the aftermath of the “great recession,” increasing concern about the environment and dwindling family wage jobs, we have some very important choices to make about our future.


Read more...

South Waterfront's revenge

News
Thursday, July 24, 2014
MoodyAveBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Remember the naysayers?  Those who called the South Waterfront aerial tram a boondoggle?  Those who rejoiced at the massive sell off of luxury condos at the John Ross and Atwater Place?


Read more...

The Scott Kveton affair

News
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
ScottKvetonBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Scott Kveton, the CEO of Urban Airship is taking a leave of absence from the company. As the story continues to unfold, here’s our perspective on a few of the key players.


Read more...

Two sides of the coin

Contributed Blogs
Monday, August 25, 2014
0825 thumb moneyBY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Ferguson Wellman’s investment views on the economy and capital markets.


Read more...

Interview: Dr. Mark Goulston

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 10, 2014
JustListenBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Tom Cox interviews Dr. Mark Goulston, author of Just Listen, Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS