What’s your point of view? How do you think Obamacare will affect the country and our economy? What are the implications of the United States interactions overseas? How do you feel about the solvency of Social Security? These topics and many others are front and center in our daily lives. They have overreaching effects on us as individuals, employees, families, and communities. And so…what do you think?
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who didn’t have an opinion? Or worse, who expressed an opinion they were unable to support or back-up? Our culture of soundbites has left many people believing they know enough to have an opinion, but not really. Little snippets provided to us by the “media”. Data points that no one validates, or perhaps pieces of information spun in a way that slant the viewpoint of a story. An example of this can be found in the monthly national employment numbers.
Each month between the ADP National Employment Report and the official government data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the country is provided with a number for the unemployment rate. August’s number from the BLS was 7.3%. While this number has dropped over the past 12 months it does not by any means indicate a strong and robust economic recovery. Only by diving deep into the data can one gather the facts to form their own opinion, and one they can support and defend. By understanding the rocketing increase in the number of part-time jobs being worked, and the concept behind the term “marginally attached” you may form a different opinion on the health of our economy.
So how do you keep up with these highly sensitive and emotionally charged topics? How can you maintain a valid point of view and one you can support and defend? How can you begin to position yourself as a deep thinker…a thought leader? Follow these 3 steps to get started:
- Read. As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. Educating yourself on a broad set of world events will add value to your conversations. Your ability to draw correlations between current events and how they may impact you, your family, community and company will position you as a sought-after thought leader.
- Network. Surrounding yourself with only those people who think like you is a dangerous strategy. Doing this creates tunnel vision and leads to shallow or narrow perspectives. Build a close network of friends or colleagues that share different viewpoints. The key here is to first establish trust and respect. If these two elements are present then it becomes much easier to move to the third step…
- Debate. Now turn to your small group of trusted associates and test your opinions. Go back and forth sharing your thoughts and perspectives on a given topic. Provide your data points, make your case. Have them do the same. You’ll find that in the end, while your blood pressure may have risen during the debate (which is completely natural if done right), you will walk away a more enlightened and deeper thinker.
Follow this road map and in no time you’ll find yourself engaged in highly charged, challenging, and educational conversations. You will have your knowledge tested and expanded, ultimately leading you to become a deep, and thoughtful thinker.