The following are approximately the first 1000 words from Chapter 7 of Jonar Nader’s book,
How to Lose Friends and Infuriate People.
Can you speak another colour?
Use mono-thought to sharpen your brain-speak
This chapter will introduce you to three powerful tools that relate to the development of leadership skills. These are ‘mono-thought’, ‘brain-speak’, and ‘colourful thinking’. These are terms I have coined in order to describe these complex, yet essential, leadership skills.
During party conversations that centre on dreams, someone eventually asks if you dream in black and white, or in colour. This offers a good opportunity to engage in an experiment. Try to keep the conversation alive by asking if they can dream in hologram or only in red.
Try to stretch the boundaries and ask if they can dream in mirror image. I have not been able to take it beyond this point. However, if ever I find a group of people with a higher tolerance for my experiments, I would like to ask if they can dream in fast-forward. Then, for some self-inflicted torture, I would be curious to see their reaction when I ask if they can dream in reverse (as if rewinding a film).
At a social gathering, there seems to be a sense of urgency to respond immediately to all questions. Awkward humour and witticism might emerge. Before you know it, the group will start to poke fun at the questions and, in no time, a new subject will command their attention.
The purpose of this social experiment has nothing to do with dreams. It is designed to observe the thinking process that someone gives to new ideas and strange questions. Above all, notice that there seems to be a sense of obligation to respond instantly to these interesting questions. Rarely would someone produce a note-pad to write down the question with a view to thinking about it and responding to it at a later stage.
At the other extreme are moments when friends and colleagues go through excruciating processes to arrive at a conclusion. They might be afflicted with hesitation or guilt thereby finding it difficult to take a stand. There are those who jump to conclusions without affording the subject sufficient analysis. The saddest of all are those who can no longer hold their own thought. They find it sinful to stand firm on a decision, except for socially approved norms.
Society enjoys social norms. As a result, those who gravitate towards the comfort zone are likely to sink into socially acceptable thinking processes. For example, at school I was conditioned to write essays that were devoid of my opinion — only authorities on the subject could be quoted or referred to. At work, I was encouraged to canvass several options and show flexibility in my views. The former says that one’s opinion is not important while the latter says that a lack of flexibility-in-thought amounts to unwelcome stubbornness.
Thinking is such a pain
It is true that the more you know, the more you realise how much you do not know. Similarly, the more you know, the more likely it is that others will irritate you.
The more you think, the more you realise that there is very little competition in this sphere. The painful aspect comes when certain truths become known to the thinker while these revelations remain undiscovered for those who do not engage in rugged thinking. This results in a sense of loneliness for the thinker.
Despite the revered qualities of intelligence, thinking is generally not understood, and is therefore not encouraged. Taking one’s time to think might be seen as not knowing the answer. Stopping at work to stare out the window to think might label you as a daydreamer. Those who slow down to think about a solution might be called procrastinators. Sadly, those who require periods of inactivity are generally seen as lazy or unproductive.
Mind you, there are those who are so slow in their deliberation that they infuriate others by staring or appearing so vague that they make others uncomfortable. Slow thinkers ought not to discard social graces. They still need to be able to multi-task whereby they acknowledge the presence of others around them, and communicate the fact that they will need time to think through the implications. Simply not responding can be rude, if not off-putting.
In which colour do you think?
Regardless of what others do, this chapter is about you and your thinking processes. What do you do? What thinking processes do you engage in to arrive at your conclusions? Are you uncomfortable with holding on to a thought for fear of things changing around you, necessitating a change of mind? Is your ‘thought’ the derivative of ‘thinking’ or do you hold thoughts that may have been born through someone else’s brainwaves?
Has anyone accused you of being simplistic when you have reduced complex thoughts into clear solutions? Have others tried to make you feel inadequate and accused you of being ‘black and white’ when you have cut through complicated situations? Have you been told that you must deal with life’s ‘shades of grey’? Have you been reminded about ‘the facts of life’ when you have tried to synthesise issues? Have your colleagues told you to ‘get real’? Do your actions still cause people to plead with you to ‘be realistic’? Or, have you been accused of being: a dreamer; idealistic; futuristic; or too courageous in your thinking?
If you have suffered these hurdles, chances are that you are a thinker (or a real loony who has not come to grips with the facts of life). If you are a thinker, and are brave enough to venture to the next lonely level, come on a journey as we explore the infuriating and liberating concept of mono-thought — a process of thinking that boils everything down to one element. If it were possible to observe thinking under a microscope, mono-thought would be equivalent to observing complex compounds at their atomic level.
Mono-thought goes beyond the ‘black and white’ and ventures through every shade of grey to colourful thinking, enabling you to arrive at the single thought or single word that best describes the answer. Mono-thought is a mental discipline that analyses an issue, concept, object, or thought, so that one arrives at the single most important element.