If you aren't blessed with this ability, make it your first hire

How do you know if you have this ability? Odds are you don’t. It is said that only about 15% of people have this ability. It is by far the X-factor in any organization and is a must-have to traverse the rough waters and come out on top for any business. Don’t worry if you don’t have it. You’re the boss, and you can hire it in. Don’t worry. I will explain what “it is” shortly. There is a great lesson that we can learn from one of the greatest business tycoons of all time, Henry Ford. Sure, you can ask, why would we care about a 130-year-old businessman? This is 2022 for the love of dogs. Henry Ford was once called out in a Chicago newspaper editorial that said he was an ignorant pacifist. Mr. Ford was highly pissed off at this published statement and brought a lawsuit against the paper. In court, the newspaper lawyers put Mr. Ford on the stand to prove their point. They asked him various questions to demonstrate how ignorant he was, by his own evidence, even though he was an evident success in the specialized knowledge of manufacturing automobiles. They tried to prove that, in general, he was indeed ignorant in all other subjects to prove their case.

Mr. Ford was thrown questions like, “who was Benedict Arnold?”, “How many soldiers did the British send over to put down the American rebellion of 1776”. To this last question, Mr. Ford said, “it was certainly more than went back home!” Finally, Mr. Ford, at wit’s end of these questions, leaned over and pointed his finger at the lawyer and said, “If I want to know the answers to these foolish questions, or any questions I have a row of electric buttons and I can summons any one of a dozen men who can answer any question I desire! Why would I clutter my mind with useless information!” The lawyer was floored.

Mr. Ford’s buttons were akin to our modern-day Google, kind of. Sure we can find answers to most questions, or we can hire a consultant to shed light and solve issues we can’t decipher in-house. This is where the X factor should be your first hire. Okay. Who is this mystery person? I myself have this ability, and it has served me well. I never knew I had this until my late and discerning incredible wife, who was successful in her own right, pointed it out. She taped a cut-out from a Forbes magazine in my closet of a quote from the CEO of a Fortune 500 company that said, “I will take learning agility over deep technology knowledge in a new hire any day off the week.”

I am unsure if you have heard this term before. It is not a skill set that can be learned; it can only be honed if you already have it. First, let’s describe exactly what learning agility is. As succinctly as possible, learning agility is a set of complex skills that enable a person with this natural ability to learn something new in one place and then apply what they learned elsewhere in a wholly different situation. Learning agility is the ability to learn, adapt, unlearn, and relearn to keep up with constantly changing conditions. Sounds like Superman? It’s a bird; it’s a plane; no, it is the most crucial team member you can hire if you yourself don’t have this talent. Many entrepreneurs have this skill because it is common amongst a lot of them. However, having one or three of these people on your team is a gold mine -for you!

What can Brown do for you? Ha, he or she may not be named Brown but let me show you what this person can do for you and why they matter. When it comes to being stumped or facing an impossible challenge, these people can figure out a way through a new situation without actually knowing what to do by using past and present experiences to make sense of an uncertain situation. Need to innovate to dominate your space? Agile learners are your secret weapon. They seek out new ideas and challenges, ask for feedback, learn and f=gow from the feedback, and pivot after short reflections.

Some articles say learning agility can be taught. Serious research says it can only be nurtured because a person is born with this gift. I believe the latter to be true as I myself and one of these people who naturally have this ability, and I have it in many. I know several other peers that have this naturally and this talent naturally, without conscious effort leads to honing this skill. This is different from being smart or intelligent; it’s akin to street smarts. So, when hiring, find a way to seek these people out. There are tests for this that you can give to potential partners or employees. After you give a few of these tests and discover, get to know, and work with these people, you will learn to spot them. A little hint, this is even more important in consultants you may hire. As them out of the gate if they have learning agility. If they say yes, ask them to define what it means. If they can’t explain it, they are full of monkey dung and think you are stupid or, as a con man says, a mark.

Let me end on this note. I am openly a mentor and consultant for money. My results are my currency. My ability to help you move your business in the direction of more profitability is my bread and butter. Check out my website, and let’s chat for free about where you are and where you want to be. http://www.blueskymentoring.com

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