“Her sentences were icebergs, with just the tip of her thought coming out of her mouth, and the rest kept up in her head.”
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I can honestly say that I have few friends who I know the full thinking, everything they truly think, about a thought.
This includes even my best friends.
I don’t think this is unusual.
More often we only see the tip of the iceberg.
Some words to open a thought.
A sentence or two which offer a preface to a bigger story.
The rest is kept up in their heads.
The ones we know the best may give us some cues, assuming we are paying attention enough, as to where to go next.
The ones we know the least may give us only the tip of the iceberg thinking we may not deserve the rest or maybe the rest is none of our business.
Not to mix metaphors <but I will> people are truly like books we peruse at a bookstore. We scan the covers, maybe read the back and sometimes even open it up and read the inside sleeve to get a sense of what is inside. 90% of the time that is what we end up knowing about the book.
<kind of the same as an iceberg … just inside instead>
In business this is a little different.
In business … assuming you ever want to get some decisions and get something done … far more often you are exposed to a full iceberg, with regard to a thought, because business demands it. About the only way you can ever get an idea from insight to real action is to figure out a way to lift the bottom of the iceberg up & out from the ocean of ignorance and into the conference room light. And even then the business world does everything it can to encourage you to only show “what is important” … as in … “just show me the tops of the icebergs … that is all I have time for” <the assumption being (1) that is all that really matters & (2) if you are good enough you will show the tip of the iceberg well enough we will get a sense of what is under the water>.
That last thought is kind of bullshit & why this iceberg metaphor is so appropriate. The majority of any idea and thought is found below water not above and 99% of the time what is above water gives very little indication of what is truly below the water.
Compounding this issue is … well … more often than not if you bring an iceberg into a meeting you will have to discuss the fact there are a bunch of other icebergs, also with tips people can see and bottoms one can only imagine, floating around the iceberg you are discussing.
The shallowest of people in the room will scan the tips floating around and assess that way. The more thoughtful want to know at least something about the parts they cannot obviously see. And the most thoughtful are interested in everything they cannot see … even if it takes a lot of time and it is less than simple.
All that said.
I could argue that in Life or in business what is important is the part most often not seen or heard.
I could argue that in Life or in business what we actually do is spend a shitload of time focused solely on the tips of icebergs.
I could argue that the latter point is the foolish consistency of the hobgoblin of foolish little minds.
To be clear … you cannot chase all icebergs. Attitudinally you would benefit by always being curious with regard to what you can’t see but behaviorally there is just not enough time to chase down everything beneath the surface if you ever want to get anything done. in other words … chasing icebergs is not easy.
I could conclude my thought today pounding away on the importance of using curiosity to avoid bad business decisions but I will not.
Instead I will use a personal thought to make a business point.
If you think about the moments you took a moment and stopped after hearing a sentence from a friend, the tip of an iceberg as it were, and followed up with some curiosity with regard the rest of the thought that you assume was kept in the mind … and how much you were rewarded in terms of enlightenment by doing so … well … I kind of think that makes my point. It is typically a rewarding effort in terms of your friendship and connection.
We can spend our lives skating along the icy surface of irrelevance focused on the tips of icebergs or we can decide to dive down and see the larger portions of thoughts, ideas and minds hidden from sight.
That is your choice.