Are you an idiot? Take this simple test.

I’ve had to make a tough decision recently in my workshops. If I accept that my job is to inspire and enable people to generate ideas and take action, to do that I might have to challenge them. I might have to point out their failings and that might not make me as well liked as if I just glossed over that and did an entertaining talk after which everyone can go back to being unproductive and uncreative as they previously were. I decided it would be better to be slightly more forceful and get the results.

I’ve spoken to hundreds of businesses this year about the topic of being more creative in generating ideas to improve profits. There are a lot of good people and great businesses out there but I want to tell you about the sizeable proportion that are sloppy, self-loathing, lack confidence, closed to new ideas and resigned to failure.

We all agree those attitudes are not helpful to a successful business. The first step in changing those attitudes is to recognise that you may occasionally slip into them.

I’m getting better at spotting these people in my workshops. When we get onto the ‘breakout sessions’ where the delegates work in small teams it quickly becomes obvious who is going to benefit and who isn’t. One of the tasks is to generate ideas for each others main problem. These are the worst things people do when they’re having other give them suggestions, they:

– are reluctant to write the ideas down.
– filter the ideas.
– criticise, saying “we’ve tried that”, “that won’t work”, or “you don’t understand, in our industry..”
– translate the idea into their own words, changing it.
– keep talking over people, giving ‘classic examples’ instead of allowing more people to offer more ideas.
– don’t understand their own problems properly or are unable to explain or clarify.
– behave resigned that their problem is unsolvable (“mine’s such a bigger and better problem than yours”).

This is the behaviour of an idiot. What it does is to shut down right brain thinking (by using the dominant critical left brain to judge) stopping further idea development or ‘brain-waves’ to come from a suggestion. It stops people wanting to offer their suggestions (which may be pure gold) because the don’t want rejection or criticism for their unformed new thought (understandably). You can feel the annoyance in the group. Why can’t people have the good grace to listen and accept the gifts people give. Interestingly enough, these same people fail to contribute any ideas for anyone else’s problems.

I hope I haven’t described you. But if you recognise any of this behaviour – force yourself to change it now. Those attitudes are the tip of the iceberg of the doom that will surely come if those negative manners eat into your business and relationships with staff and customers. Change your mind into an open, willing, positive, playful, experimental, good-finding, inventive workshop of ideas.

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9 comments on “Are you an idiot? Take this simple test.

  1. Ayd, I have to confess elements of these were definitely me, years ago when i worked as a company employee. It was all about feeling i had no power to change things. It’s taken years of working at it and deepening my understanding to reverse those underlying feelings. It’s definitely a process that takes time to change old thinking, old habits.The result is, i’m probably unemployable now!I’ve tapped into the powers to make my own ideas happen. It’s a wonderful way to live, knowing that anything is possible. There’s always a solution, it’s always do-able. With the right underlying attitude, we can move anything to happen!Cally


  2. In old-fashioned psychology text books, the word “idiot” was given a strict definition as being someone who had an IQ of less than 25. But I think future psychology text books should have a new definition – an idiot is someone who does not read and learn from your blog, Ayd. Once again another excellent, to-the-point and illuminating piece.


  3. I’m very, very left-brain – analytical and process driven – but I do try to listen to advice and see what I can do with it.

    I recognise the traits you describe from when I was a trainer (also the ‘it’s all the company’s/another department’s/my manager’s fault syndrome) and also from behaviours in virtual boardrooms. Why ask for help and then ignore it? Makes no sense to me.

    Another cracking blog Ayd!


    • Thanks Lesley! But that first statement of yours is not the whole story, or the whole brain. You may have the discipline to be structured, but look what you do with it: re-arrange words into new sentences and sentences into text that conveys meaning. That’s a definition of creativity, so you must be a highly creative individual, using both so-called ‘left’ and ‘right’ in the best way…


  4. People who balance and manage their lives are generally more happy. If one single out and only focus on one thing, ones chance of falling pray of becoming an idiot increase.

    Us creative guys love to look at the world through rose colored glass. Others view this as idiotic behavior. Although I am aware of my shortcomings, I had noticed that I can fall victim to my imagination. Although I enjoy life, I do notice that I can make anyone at anytime quite angry. I am quite flexible, and generally successful. This give me confidence in being perhaps within that 80persentile of folks who are doing things different to the other 20% I believe that there is a one in five chance that I will not agree with less successful people than myself. I therefore have a chance to seem like an idiot for 80% of folks out there, and I am a definite idiot to more tolerant to that remaining percentile. Now that the world can see me coming their way, should they not stand clear? Should they not just shut-a-pie-hole if I am not what they expected? I don’t know, I am just blinking my eyes like any normal person. Are we what we eat? Can I say, that you who read this, absorbing this mind set, can I add that perhaps you are the idiot, and how does that make you feel?:D


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