Not the Opposite

A lot of what is written is written in a way that suggests that the opposite of what is being discussed would be better.

Yesterday I happened upon an article in the Economist titled “In Praise of Laziness,” in which the author suggested that there is too great a focus on working hard. He suggested that Sheryl Sandberg’s advice that women should “lean in” was problematic. He also suggested that John Bernard’s idea that one should do “Business at the Speed of Now” and my friend, Michael Port’s book title “Book Yourself Solid” were indicative of a world in which people are trying to do too much.

Reading the first paragraph would give one the idea that they should “lean back,” being passive and reactive instead of intentional and proactive about their careers and their work. If business at the speed of now is a bad idea, perhaps one should do “business at the speed of later?” Even though it’s clear the author has never read Port’s book, one would believe that you should book yourself in such a way as to ensure that you have less business than you need to sustain your business.

These are poorly chosen straw men, having nothing whatsoever to do with the primary suggestion to spend more time reflecting and thinking and less time with unnecessary meetings, make work, and email. But the article provides an excellent example of describing something as negative in a way that makes it appear as if its opposite is better.

The opposite of cold calling is portrayed as being social media. The opposite of interrupting the client is waiting for them to initiate a conversation. The opposite of outbound is inbound. The opposite of gaining commitments is allowing the prospective client to determine what comes next and when.

What is wrong with each of these examples is that they are shown as opposites. They are presented in such a way as to make them appear mutually exclusive. One prospecting medium does not preclude another. One choice to interrupt your prospective client with a call doesn’t suggest that other approaches are not helpful. The decision to gain the commitments that move deals forward in no way eliminates a collaborative conversation about what comes next.

It’s not “this” or “that.” It is “this” and “that,” in the right measure, at the right time, as it pertains to a certain outcome.

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