For me, you pursue what you love regardless of what else happens. If you fail or fall flat on your face, and that’s the worst thing that can happen, it’s OK. When did pursuing what you love become such a bad thing? I’ll make all the sacrifices to be the best I can. -Tim Tebow quoted in The Atlantic
Former NFL quarterback, Tim Tebow smiles during a work out for baseball scouts and the media during a showcase on the campus of the University of Southern California, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016 in Los Angeles. The Heisman Trophy winner works out for a big gathering of scouts on USC’s campus in an attempt to start a career in a sport he hasn’t played regularly since high school. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Some would say Tebow’s baseball ambitions are a sideshow, I say it’s a world-class example of Stephen Covey’s first habit.
Did Tebow’s MLB tryout this week inspire me to pick up The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? No, but because I’ve read this book, I see the results of these habits played out more clearly in the lives of people around me.
Back while reviewing The Slight EdgeI wrote, “If we can structure our habits so that they feed our positive progress up the slight edge, we can use the momentum we build over time to ride our way to goals that may seem incredible at this time.”
Will picking up The 7 Habits magically transform you into a highly effective person? Absolutely not, and the late Dr. Covey would be the first to tell you the same. What makes this book so foundational and powerful is the consistent application and awareness that it can spark in a life.
People like Elon Musk or Sam Walton offer us the opportunity to scrutinize their lives for traces of these habits. It’s a fascinating foray into the psyche of success ( and a little alliteration alights the senses ;).
That’s the main reason I believe you should read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It allows a framework for understanding success and then using that understanding for your own development.
Habit #1 in the book is to “Be Proactive.” Regardless of your opinion on Tebow’s performance for 46 MLB scouts this week, you have to admit, he’s taking control of the things that he can control.
The Washington Times reports that he said playing quarterback and hitting a baseball were his favorite things as a boy. At 29, prospects may seem slim that he will ever play in the Major Leagues but his determination to pursue what he loves to do is unmatched.
I think we could all learn a lesson from Tebow here.
Lencioni, the NYT Best Selling author of The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, has followed that foundational work on teams with his newest project on the individuals that make up a team.
As the founder of The Table Group, consultant to 78 of the Fortune 100 companies, Lencioni is perhaps the most qualified individual to teach about jackassery within teams.
A fable like several of his other books, The Ideal Team Player addresses the three core virtues that an individual must possess to be an effective member of a high functioning team.
The story revolves around CEO Jeff Shanley of Valley Builders as he and his core executives take on two new projects and need to radically expand their team. They endeavor not to hire “jackasses” and come up with three essential virtues and innovative ways to identify and cultivate these into their employees.
The three virtues are not new concepts. An individual must be humble, hungry and smart to be an ideal team player. These are not interchangeable, they must ALL be present in the same individual else the person falls into danger of being a “jackass” as Shanley puts it.
Semantics of the story aside, the Table Group has been building a culture around these three virtues for nearly 20 years. They actively hire and fire on the presence of humility, hunger, and smarts.
Humility, according to Lencioni, is “the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player” (pg 157).
Hungry workers never have to be told to work harder by their boss, they are diligent and self-motivated (p. 159).
Finally, Smart is simply having common sense in dealing with people (pg.160).
You may be thinking, “I could have told you that!” You would be correct, these attributes are not news to most people. However, identifying the presence and cultivating all three simultaneously is the challenge.
Antithesis: A person or thing that is the direct opposite of something else.
Sometime it’s easier to understand a concept by looking at a well known antithesis of that concept.
So let’s talk about Humility today.
Donald Trump in Dimondale, Michigan 8.19.16
Do I have your attention yet?
If not, watch this clip and wait for the uproarious laughter at :20 seconds in.
Now that I shamelessly leveraged politics to earn your attention, let’s talk about humility. Donald Trump serves as a great antithesis of humility and has for decades.
But we need a positive definition of humility and that’s what Pastor C.J. Mahaney writes about in his foundational book, Humility: True Greatness.
On page 22, Mahaney says that “Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.”
The importance of this topic is summed up by John Stott, quoted on page 64, “In every step of our Christian growth and maturity, and throughout every aspect of our Christian obedience and service, our greatest foe is pride and our greatest ally is humility.”
There are several book reviews for Mahaney’s book that focus on the pastoral, Christian appeal of this work. For example, here’s a great one on challies.com, yet I’d like to point out that the pursuit of humility should be a universal cultural pursuit because face it, almost no one likes spending time with an arrogant turd.
As a committed Christian, I truly appreciate the spiritual perspective of parts one and two of this book, and they are outlined in the previously linked book review. But for those reading this post who don’t share an impetus for humility because Christ commands it, what are some practical habits to build this virtue?
Here are five practices that I pulled from part three of this book that are valuable no matter your worldview.
First, start each day with an attitude of gratitude. I may be showcasing my lack of humility by choosing this one to write about because it’s one of the practices that I already implement myself, but this way I can report results. I write down three things each morning in a journal that I’m thankful for from the day before. This is a modification of the “Five Minute Journal” which I may switch to soon. Mahaney puts the value of this practice this way (pg.71):
What would happen if I crossed your path tomorrow morning? Would I encounter someone who was an alert and thankful observer of answered prayer, someone who in a pronounced way was grateful for God’s many mercies?
Second, seize your commute! You’ve heard of Carpe Diem, well this is Carpe Commute. Mahaney quotes census figures that the average worker has 50 minutes of commute time per day. So rather than filling ones mind with the Constantly Negative News, this is an opportunity to take the focus off one’s self. Mahaney recommends reflecting on scripture during this time. William Wilberforce, the architect of abolition in Great Britain’s 18th century empire, used his mile walks to Parliament to memorize Psalm 119, all 176 verses (pg 74).
Third, at the end of the day, realize that sleep represents our need for renewal. No one is able to go through life entirely self sustained. We rely on others, on sleep, on food, and the amenities of modern life and realizing this as a metaphor of our reliance combats pride.
Fourth, we need to cultivate an attitude that is others focused. This theme runs through the entire book. Christ defined greatness as being a servant to all. In Philippians 2:8 we read that he “humbled himself to death, even death on a cross.” This act of selfless love was atonement for our sins in a way that is unfathomable to us humans in many ways. But again, whether you’re a Christian or not, being others focused brings out the best in them and diminishes our arrogance.
Fifth, play golf, play a lot of golf. This one is direct counsel from C.J. Mahaney, and I’m not about to argue. But in all seriousness, participating in something in which you’re not the best at will be a reminder that each person is fallible and not to the point that they want to be yet.
I hope this post encouraged you to think through your life and identify patterns of pride approaching you. This book has quite a number of great habits like these for you and I to implement, these five only scratch the surface of our pursuit of humility.
Some may say that humility isn’t needed in this culture, and they can quote Trump as a prime example. If that’s your opinion, I ask you to read this book and think about an eternal perspective of success and what truly matters.
I’m currently listening to Country Rap. I’m not joking.
Check this playlist out. https://open.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/0Z7FRWDN3Sn8AST3elDfBp
If that isn’t proof that the world is changing, I don’t know what is.
Some changes are great, and we’ll discuss one here. Some changes are terrible, like that playlist I just shared.
My opinion in a shirt.
Seriously though, we’re going to talk about a significant change predicted by Kevin Kelly in his new book The Inevitable. We’ll answer the question, “Who the heck is Kevin Kelly and can he predict the future?” approach the question, “What is a book?” and give some perspective as we move into an uncertain future.
Kevin Kelly writes about the technological forces in play in our culture and how they will shape the next thirty years. If you’ve heard of him before, this premise makes sense, if not, why is he suddenly our cultural psychic? Kevin Kelly helped launch Wired Magazine and was its executive editor for its first seven years. Wired Mag is dedicated to tracking and understanding the changes in the digital age.
Kelly has been in the eye of the storm when it comes to the changes technology has brought us over the last 20 years and is uniquely qualified to comment on the coming trends. Worth noting, he makes assertions on almost every page in this book, and some have come to opposite conclusions based on the same evidence. However, he raises a plethora of great questions in his chapters that are wonderful for making the reader trace the possibilities of potential futures.
One of my favorite questions that Kelly brings up is “What is a book?” He asks this question in the chapter on “Screening” so let’s examine what he means by this. To do so, come with me to ancient Egypt. For thousands of years, us humans were “People of the word.” While language and writing existed, it was reserved for the gods and kings, everyone else had to make do with memorizing information.
About 500 years ago though, Gutenberg transformed the world in the space of a few generations with the invention of a printing press. Soon anyone who was literate could have their own ideas, pass along technical knowledge, or mount a revolution. This transformed human beings into “People of the Book.”
Exploding in popularity in the 1950s, the television was the herald of the age of screens. Today we see a profusion of screens every where we look, snaking around buildings, peeking out of our pockets, screaming for attention along roadways, they’re everywhere.
Kelly says we are becoming “People of the Screen.” This changes the way we experience information, and according to him we will cease to merely read words, we will also “watch words and read images” (pg. 89). Before you scoff, when was the last time you sent a text with no words, all emoji? Before you dismiss this out of hand, what about this video that summarizes the entire book of judges in 7 minutes and 29 seconds?
So before we pull back from this potential new identity, it may be worth exploring. And what better way to explore than to ask the question, “What is a book?” After all, if we aren’t people of the book anymore, and we associate books with knowledge, are we forsaking deep knowledge for an existence of sound bytes and video clips?
Kelly subscribes to the idea that a book is more than simply the pages and text. After all, is a blank “sketchbook” a true “book?” It has no content whatsoever. What about a “phonebook?” It has no narrative structure, and no one desires to read it in its entirety for information. We have machines for that. He says that a book is “a bunch of symbols united by a theme into an experience that takes a while to complete.” (pg. 91)
This sounds like a definition that could flow onto or live on a screen, and that’s exactly what we are witnessing.
So even if a “book” is able to live in a world of screens, and we are becoming people increasingly connected to screens, what saves us from death by soundbyte or asphyxiation from advertisements? Kelly predicts that as books flow into the ocean of the web, what will emerge is an interconnected, hyperlinked whole that will be something of a “universal book.” This, he predicts, will allow people to see the world as the series of complex interconnected wholes rather than merely isolated ideas.
Personally, this makes me excited, imagine having a portal to the sum total of knowledge of the human race. This development has enormous potential.
Others look at this type of trend (remember, there are 12 in the book) and recoil. Its easier to take it a day at a time, wonder when the next iOS update will actually be mandatory, and keep hitting “remind me later” until you upgrade your phone.
Kelly’s perspective on an uncertain future that we are facing is this, it’s better to paddle with the current because then you can steer around the rocks.
If you’ve ever been white water rafting of kayaking, you’ll know that once you’re in a white water scenario, its unwise to fight the current. One must adapt to the situation, and roll with the flow. In this way, one can navigate dangerous waters with ease. Dealing with the world as it actually is.
Remember, there are 11 other trends like this to unpack in this book. Each of them could be their own book it seems. Or perhaps they already are.
Thanks for “screening” this book with me folks! Check out this week’s video for my personal screening of this same topic here:
Who was the third person to fly across the Atlantic? You know the answer.
But before I remind you, Al Ries and Jack Trout have written a book with one of the most pretentious titles I have ever seen.
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk!
Quite the proposition, but several of their laws are devastatingly accurate. While their examples are dated (I read the 1993 edition) it’s almost more fun that way to examine their predictions in light of 23 years of marketing between publishing and today’s reality.
So who was the third person to fly across the Atlantic? You’re practically dying to know.
You may know that the first man to fly across the Atlantic was Charles Lindberg on May 20, 1927. You may even remember that his plane was called “The Spirit of St. Louis.” But you’re wracking your brain to try and think of who this third person was.
Well, SHE happened to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, Amelia Earhart.
Ok, this is Amy Adams, but she plays a great Amelia Earhart in Night at the Museum 2!
This is where marketing happens.
Let me explain.
Ries and Trout say that our minds stick on the first in any category, they call this the Law of Leadership. This means that for instance, Redbull will probably always have a big portion of the energy drink market, because it was the first in people’s mind. Their second law, the Law of Category, is that you can always be first if you create a new category. That’s what’s going on with Amelia Earhart.
This book has 22 laws like these for you to digest. Personally, I disagree with their worldview that marketing actually changes truth. They say that there is no objective truth, that all truth is merely perception and that since perception is influenced by marketing, then marketing changes truth. This is quite the postmodern view, and I reject their conclusion. However, perception is real, and one would be hard pressed to argue that marketing doesn’t influence people.
You’ll also be hard pressed to read this book and not find a way to apply it to your business or life. If nothing else, I enjoyed it for fun nostalgia of the early nineties and to judge their predictions.
One has to take some of their “laws” with a grain of salt because according to the “Law of Line Expansion,” Microsoft is mere years away (in 1993) from failing as a company because they keep expanding their product lines.
I recommend this book with a caveat. Note the qualifications of the authors and the fact that this book is recommended by people like Tim Ferriss and Ryan Holiday. But remember, not all of the predictions they’ve made played out in that way in the real world. Don’t blithely follow a map that doesn’t accurately portray the territory.
When I moved from Colorado to Texas at the beginning of September 2014, I had about $200 in my bank account, and wasn’t going to get paid a dime until the end of the month from the job I had just taken.
I remember walking down the aisle of Walmart in Temple, Texas and thinking to myself “If I buy supplies for PB&J I can eat that for a week for about $12.”
Dave Ramsey, the founder of Financial Peace University, starts his book, Entreleadership, with a similar situation that he found himself in during his early career, and from the first page of this book I thoroughly enjoyed it.
“Entreleadership” is a word coined by Ramsey as the mash-up of “Entrepreneur” and “Leader.” He states that a leader is a proven force within an organization and can either get results herself or motivate others to excel. His definition of entrepreneur is one who is driven to strike out and try something that’s never been done before, one who has a compulsion to create. By taking strengths from each of these persons, Ramsey trains his teams to get results while looking for opportunities to innovate.
This book is easily one of the most comprehensive guides for small business owners I have read. Ramsey states on the cover that this book contains “practical business wisdom from the trenches,” and the content is curated to contain strategies that a business owner can use, TODAY.
I was recommended this book by a friend since she knew I am considering starting my own small business. After reading it, I would put this book near the top of any reading list for small business owners.
While planning this week’s video, I paused to think about some of the topics that this book covers, off the top of my head in about 30 seconds I compiled this list:
Cash on hand
Buying new facilities
Personality styles in the workplace
Leadership vs management
Types of small business
Mechanics of starting new business
Percentage of revenue to save for taxes
There are so many more topics covered in this book and ALL of them are backed up by personal stories from Ramsey’s companies.
Personally, from one quick time through the book, I can pinpoint multiple potholes that I’ll be avoiding while starting a new business later this year.
Ramsey writes in his wrap up that he tried to write a “different kind of business and leadership book.” This work is Ramsey’s personal playbook, and if you’re entrepreneurial or desire to lead well, I encourage you to view his results and take his advice.
Everything about his life is submitted to the litmus test of whether it furthers his dream that humans must be a multi-planetary species.
Before we go on, think about the level of vision that it takes to even consider mounting an assault on the challenges of colonizing another planet.
NASA Photo of Mars
Even if we stop right there and I don’t share anything else about the book, you can get a feel of the tenacity and grit Elon possesses.
We’ll quick cover a bit about his history, the vision for his two companies, and some controversy surrounding this figure.
Growing up in South Africa, Elon escaped the reality of constant bullying and a harsh father through reading and programming. His first video game he designed and built at 12 years old. He was already looking for ways to control or escape his reality.
After emigrating to Canada and then the US, he founded an Internet company, Zip2, rather than starting a PH.D. Program he had already been accepted into at Stanford.
After selling Zip2 his next venture, X.com, merged with PayPal and eventually sold to eBay for 1.5 billion.
This buyout allowed him to start first SpaceX, and then buy into Tesla early enough to make him a co-founder.
Things were not all rosy however, SpaceX struggled to get any rocket into the air for more than 90 seconds and any space company unable to get to space has, as we tell Houston, a problem.
Eventually they succeeded, but not after depleting much of Elon’s fortune. And he was being pressed from both sides as the early days of Tesla were not much better.
Elon’s goal with Tesla is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transportation. The master plan was (and is) to produce an expensive sports car, move on and add scale for a luxury sedan, and eventually mass produce an affordable model that the everyman can own.
The problem was, the first roadster was listed for thousands less than production cost. Towards the end of 2008, Elon was down to less than $100,000 to his name and needed to raise more venture capital to even keep his doors open.
Obviously today it’s becoming more difficult to find someone who doesn’t recognize the name Elon Musk, so he must have turned the companies around, but I’ll leave the details to your imagination until you go read it yourself.
Today, SpaceX is the only private company to ever deliver cargo to the International Space Station and they are exploring methods for making rocket fuel from chemicals found on the surface of mars (who else thinks to build gas stations on mars!)
Long exposure photo of a SpaceX launch
Tesla today has had over 80,000 orders this year alone for the luxury sedan: the Model S, according to CNN Money. They also have hundreds of thousands of pre-orders for the upcoming Model 3, the “everyman’s” car.
Things are not out of the woods yet for Musk. Tesla has yet to post any profit, according to the CNN article, and SpaceX could be derailed by public opinion if and when they reach a point of transporting humans and a rocket blows up.
Musk is working to revolutionize multiple industries like only a few others have ever attempted, much less accomplished. But this is not without toll on the people around him. He has gone through three divorces and a former employee says that while he inspires trust and admiration, “he seems to have no capacity for human connection, instead viewing others as pawns to be played, or ammunition to be spent in the pursuit of a target.”
In short, the technical aspects of this book are accessible and you’ll enjoy learning about the bleeding edge of technological entrepreneurs. I recommend this book to anyone interested in high achievement or changing the world.
However, Silicone Valley has a saying that goes around start-ups, “be like Elon,” and while I certainly respect his accomplishments I wouldn’t encourage you to emulate his attitude towards others or his personal life.
Until next week,
Keep reading, friends!
Ps. I’ll update this post with hyperlinks and images soon, I’m just done with a road trip today after being away from home for two weeks.
People like Thomas Jefferson and Lewis and Clark, who are immortalized in…. you guessed it, the Gateway Arch.
Majestic, isn’t it?
How can you and I become Outliers like that? It requires real change kickstarted by emotion and story. SEE-FEEL-CHANGE from Switch gives us the framework, and along with this week’s 62 page story you should check out an outstanding 3 page essay from Elbert Hubbard entitled A Message to Garcia. See this quick preview:
The point I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia; Rowan took the letter and did not ask, “Where is he at?” By the Eternal! there is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college of the land. It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing- “Carry a message to Garcia!”
If you’ve never thought logically about a deeply emotional issue like abortion, welcome, this article won’t overwhelm you.
If you’ve already had many conversations about worldviews and how your ideas relate to others, then there are resources linked below that will give you material for those conversations.
The Case for Life by Scott Klusendorf isn’t the ultimate philosophical and academic work of the prolife position but it does give lay individuals the tools and tactics to logically articulate their position. Klusendorf draws heavily from sources on both sides of the aisle on this issue and puts them in perspective so someone without prior knowledge on the subject can immediately grasp the collision of ideas.
As mentioned in the video, if you find yourself in a conversation about abortion the issue boils down to how to define the humanity of the unborn and whether they differ in fundamental ways from adults that justify ending their life.
What clarifies the conversation?
If it’s been awhile since 7th grade logic class, a syllogism is a formula for constructing a deductive argument that consists of two premises and a conclusion. In order to disprove the conclusion, one must show that it is either illogical or disprove one of the premises. Here is the syllogism of the abortion issue.
It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being.
Abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being.
Therefore, abortion is wrong.
This is a tactic that Klusendorf states will narrow the conversation at least to the question “Are the unborn human?”
He writes in the book that if one can prove the the unborn are NOT human than the entire case for life is moot and there should be no moral qualms for obtaining an abortion than there would be to have one’s appendix removed.
This question is addressed by the science of embryology in that from the earliest stages of development you were a distinct, living, and whole human being. See these quotes from embryology texts at princeton.edu for more information. Another tactic for clarifying these differences is known as “Trot out the Toddler” and can be found on Klusendorf’s website.
In the one minute case for life I state at the beginning of the video, I quote Scott as saying “While science can tell us what the unborn are, we turn to philosophy to determine if their differences are fundamental in ways that would justify ending their life.”
As Stephen Schwarz points out, there is no morally significant difference between the embryo that you once were and the adult that you are today. Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not relevant such that we can say that you had no rights as an embryo but you do have rights today. Think of the acronym SLED as a helpful reminder of these non-essential differences:
Size: True, embryos are smaller than newborns and adults, but why is that relevant? Do we really want to say that large people are more human than small ones? Men are generally larger than women, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve more rights. Size doesn’t equal value.
Level of development: True, embryos and fetuses are less developed than the adults they’ll one day become. But again, why is this relevant? Four year-old girls are less developed than 14 year-old ones. Should older children have more rights than their younger siblings? Some people say that self-awareness makes one human. But if that is true, newborns do not qualify as valuable human beings. Six-week old infants lack the immediate capacity for performing human mental functions, as do the reversibly comatose, the sleeping, and those with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Environment: Where you are has no bearing on who you are. Does your value change when you cross the street or roll over in bed? If not, how can a journey of eight inches down the birth-canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn from non-human to human? If the unborn are not already human, merely changing their location can’t make them valuable.
Degree of Dependency: If viability makes us human, then all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication are not valuable and we may kill them. Conjoined twins who share blood type and bodily systems also have no right to life.
In short, it’s far more reasonable to argue that although humans differ immensely with respect to talents, accomplishments, and degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal because they share a common human nature.
In those two basic points and utilizing the Columbo Tactic to clarify what the other person truly believes, you can have a rational conversation about the abortion issue. This doesn’t mean however that we can expect everyone to coalesce around a shared view, this is an issue that is deeply personal and tough to address for many.
You will hear some common issues come up when talking with proponents of the right to choose.
If you wish to dive deeply into the issue and look at the logical reasoning on each side of the issue, you’ll discover names like Francis J Beckwith, David Boonin, Peter Kreeft, Peter Singer, and Nadine Strossen. These individuals are all involved in writing, debating, and speaking extensively on the opposing views surrounding the abortion issue.
In conclusion, I encourage you to examine this issue logically. Go do your own study, I’m sure it will be an enlightening process.
Keep reading friends!
P.S. For extra credit, here are two links to debates that have happened in the past few years on the subject.
You’re at lunch and your co-worker looks at you a bit oddly and says with a smirk. “Hey you’re a Christian just like those folks at Westborogh Baptist Church, why do you believe in gay-bashing?”
At a family reunion, you are catching up with a cousin you haven’t seen in awhile and she says that Christians are intolerant, and even Jesus says that the Father desires that none should perish….
What do you do? You have 10 seconds…
Tactics: A Game plan for discussing your Christian convictions is a book by world-class apologist Greg Koukl and provides a framework for responding to worldview issues like those in the intro. I’m going to share with you the main tactic for responding to others about their claims and your beliefs, and it’s named after this guy… Lieutenant Colombo.
This book goes beyond just rhetoric for defending the Christian faith however and gives you the ability to steer a conversation so each person can be heard and offered the opportunity to see the strengths… and weaknesses of their views.
While most of the world in the 21st century communicates entirely emotionally, this book is built on the premise that in order to converse successfully in the world of ideas one needs three skills. From pg. 25.
Knowledge: An accurately informed mind.
Wisdom: An artful method
Character: An attractive manner
Tactics is structured around building wisdom and being artful in your conversations with others. To build Knowledge, it really depends on the subject- although in apologetics the Bible is always a great start for Christians. I recommend the book How to Win Friends and Influence People for building an character and an attractive manner with others.
Note: This tactic we are going to cover is extremely powerful and can be used to verbally bludgeon another person. Please don’t use this if you’re going to be a jerk about it. Speak the truth in love, and realize that many in our society are emotionally driven and when confronted with logic can resort to anger or attacks on you.
Let’s get down to the heart of the book.
COLUMBO — Sleuth Series — Pictured: Peter Faulk as Lt. Frank Columbo — Sleuth Photo
This guy again.
The Colombo tactic is built around questions.
Questions are friendly, they are educational, and they put you back in the drivers seat.
Never make a statement, at least at first, when a question will do the job. p.47
Here’s your first Colombo Question that you can always return to when someone makes a claim. “What do you mean by that?”
“All truth is relative” What do you mean by that?
“Trump is a terrible candidate” What do you mean by that?
“All Christians are hate mongers” What do you mean by that?
The other person then has to take the time to respond (remember, some people are simply blowing steam or merely repeating slogans they heard) and clarify exactly what they are asserting. General statements like “You’re a man. You shouldn’t have an opinion on abortion” are vague and need refining before you can move on to your second Colombo question.
Once the other person responds and clarifies, your second question is this:
Now, how did you come to that conclusion?
Say for example you are told, “Well there are thousands of universes and ours just happens to be the one that looks designed.”
How did you come to that conclusion?
This question puts the burden of proof back on the person who put forth the view instead of asking you to respond to the assertion. (Are they going to visit the other universes to figure out if they appear to be designed? How did you find out there are other universes?)
In order to stand up, their explanation needs to not only be possible and plausible, it also needs to be probable or more likely than the idea you hold. To determine this, you’ll need the third point of the Colombo tactic.
You can use this third question method to lead the other person to a logical conclusion. This “leading with questions” step of the Colombo tactic requires practice, as well as listening carefully to their line of reasoning and being able to respond to assumptions one at a time as they appear. When a new idea surfaces, go back you your tried and true “What do you mean by that” and take it from the top. Your most non-threatening approach is to continue to point out errors of logic with questions.
While you won’t be prepared to respond to every conversation after watching this 5 minute video or reading one blog post, I encourage you to use this knowledge for building others up by strengthening their thought process. You don’t have to convince everyone that they are wrong and you are right, but you shouldn’t let them get away with making assertions you know are false.
Lastly, don’t be a “logical justice warrior” and go looking for fights with your new found tactics. Build your knowledge. Grow in wisdom. Develop your character.