In the field of artificial intelligence, there’s a saying: “Hard things are easy; easy things are hard.” It’s called Moravec’s Paradox.
The “hard skills” of business include finance, data analysis, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and strategic thinking.
The “soft skills” of business include leadership, sales, communication, flexibility, persuasion, collaboration, negotiation and interpersonal, emotional-based skills such as empathy and resilience.
The soft skills of business are human skills. They are people-related, they are hard to train for, and they’re very costly to get wrong.
Soft skills are the hardest skills.
But you already know that. You’re a people person, right?
In a speech, the great physicist Richard Feynman once said “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.”
That’s as true for a billionaire as an undergraduate. It’s as true when you first found a startup as it is after your second multi-million dollar exit.
A psychology research paper, Unskilled And Unaware Of It, by J Kruger et al., says:
“We all lack self insight some of the time. And, in particular, when we’ve strayed beyond our sphere of competence, we may lack the competence to know it.”
A follow up paper, Skilled Or Unskilled, But Still Unaware Of It, by Katherine A Burson et al., points out that on more difficult tasks, high performers are even less accurate than the worst performers in their judgments.
This is the coaching century
Smart, successful, wealthy people are at greater risk of their own errors of judgement, each time they start a new project.
Which is why every great leader needs the support of a trusted advisor.
To be amongst the very best trusted advisors is to recognize that even we can’t trust the way we think. So we have our own advisors, too.
As Hugh McLeod puts it, “The trick isn’t being successful. The trick is being human.”
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