I remember going to a business meeting involving a very complicated patent that my company recently came up with. I didn’t have the time to go through the patent with a fine-toothed comb.
I went into the meeting with engineers who have gone through the materials and have mastered it backwards and forwards. In fact, they have read that material so many times, that they can basically recite them in their sleep.
Some were even so confident coming into the meeting that they thought that they knew the materials like the back of their hand. What do you think happened during the meeting?
Well, since millions of dollars were involved, the engineers froze up. They simply froze. It was too much information in too little time. They did not know how to respond. They did not know how to react.
They were intimidated by the amount of money at stake. They didn’t want to make a mistake so they just cramped up mentally.
I use that analogy because when somebody’s running long distances, there’s always a chance that they will develop muscle cramps. This happens because the amount of sugar in your muscles just dry up. Your muscles tighten up and it becomes really, really painful.
It’s not unusual for marathon runners to just simply run out of juice the last mile. This easily becomes the most gruelling and excruciating ordeal of their lives.
Well, this can happen mentally as well. You may have gone the materials over and over again. You may have gone through quizzes regarding the different details and implications of the stuff that you’re supposed to learn.
However, when the time comes for you to actually get tested, in practical terms, you freeze up. You cramp up and you fail. That’s what happened to the engineers.
I don’t want to blow my own horn here, but I ended up saving the day. Why? I did not approach the project from the same vantage point they did. They looked at it as some sort of life or death situation.
They knew that this would probably make or break the company that we will work for so they put all this unnecessary pressure on themselves. On the other hand, I looked at the patent application, the technology, and the summary of all the bells and whistles the product had.
I focused on what it did. I focused on the practical effects on people who are supposed to buy the product. In other words, I looked at outcome. I looked at results. I looked at the things that matter to rank and file consumer throughout the United States.
Let me be the first one to admit.
My understanding of the product was very shallow in terms of the product’s technical elements.
If I were to recite everything I knew about the product to an engineer, that person will probably laugh at me because it was not a technical-enough understanding. However, for the practical purposes of our meeting, it was more than enough to impress the investors.
The bottom line is my recitation of what the product was about and most importantly, my ability to answer questions regarding the product saved that presentation. Again, I don’t mean this to blow my own horn or make myself look like a hero.
This highlights the fact that you don’t have to master the minute details of any kind of information collection. Instead, you have to link what you know about the product, the concept, or the philosophy to things you already know.
This way, you get a practical understanding. You look at the actual results, the manifestations, the impact, the implications, the consequences, and the ramifications.
Whys is this important? This is how people think.
This is how people navigate practical intellectual information.
If you are able to remain at this level, you are able to communicate clearly what needs to be communicated and make the right impression. Whether that impression means passing a test, getting some sort of certification, or in my case, impressing investors, you need to do it.
This is definitely much better than simply allowing yourself to get intimidated by dwelling on the minute details of really technical information. That’s how you play the game to win. You don’t have to be a genius.