Don't Let Your Butt Dominate Your Brain
Are you too focused on local problems and ideas?
I was recently in a conference where one of the speakers gave a talk titled, "Your Butt Dominates Your Brand." Evidently, it's a Chinese saying that means wherever you are sitting (wherever your butt is located) will likely determine your point of view on any given subject . . . and in the business world, wherever you are sitting will likely shape how you make decisions.
So if you're sitting in the United States, you're going to think like an American, and you're likely to make decisions that put your American interests first. More specifically, if you sit in Miami, you're going to think about Miami first, before the rest of the country.
Your butt dominates your brain. Where you're located determines your point of view and how you make decisions.
It makes sense, but you might not think about it most of the time. The problem is that when you look at things from a "local" point of view, you could be making decisions that are detrimental everywhere else. You could be missing a world of opportunity by assessing a situation too narrowly. Plus, when your butt dominates your brain, you're constantly looking at issues through the same lens.
That can be dangerous. Where you sit might not be the best vantage point on an issue. What do we do about it? Here are four good options I'm trying in my own life.
Get news from more sources
Many of us have our go-to sources for news. We find comfort in news sources that we've grown accustomed to -- for me, it's The New York Times -- but we need to expand our view on news coverage.
I have recently (and finally) adopted the News app on my mobile phone, which allows me to create a custom list of news sources from all around the world. In addition to the U.S., I've got sources from Europe, Asia and Latin America now funneling in their coverage, which gives me a very different perspective on what's happening in our collective world. And I've totally stopped reading "news" articles on my social feeds because I know that my social network filters too much.
Network while traveling more
I travel a lot, both domestically and internationally. Travel gives us such a great opportunity to get to know other cultures, ways of life and modes of business. While I'm out, I spend almost every waking moment with my colleagues so that I can learn and help them succeed.
But, I need to network even more while I'm traveling. There are a number of international organizations that I can leverage to meet more people on the road and learn about what they are going through.
Read more books
I hear all the time that most CEOs read a book a week. Books, particularly business books, give us a window into a new line of thinking that is likely to be different than our own. Books show us how to tackle a range of challenges and they offer up new solutions that someone else has found successful.
To take it another step further, I'm going to start searching for business books from countries outside of the U.S. I've been way too focused on American authors, and I need to expand my point of view.
Become fluent in a foreign language
I used to speak Spanish rather fluently, but I've lost it over the years. It's a big personal regret. Speaking another language opens up the mind and puts us into new cultures, especially while traveling. I used to speak Spanish whenever I traveled to Europe, for example.
Speaking another language takes us out of our hometown and puts us on a global stage. I'm envious of my colleagues who speak two, three, even four languages because I feel like they have a much broader mindset. It might be more in attitude than in reality, but I do believe that being bilingual will help open me up to new experiences.
It's very hard to make sure we don't let a local event or a local vantage point force decisions that could be sub-optimal for the rest of the world. But, through conscious effort, we really can stop letting our butts dominate our brains.