The Superpower of Observation

I just witnessed my first full meltdown in the comments section of an article posted on LinkedIn. It was EPIC! And equal parts funny and sad. Like a really slow trainwreck I couldn't pull myself away from watching, reading each new person throw their two cents into an argument that had long since jumped the tracks and spiraled out of control. The dissenter to the original article, a "CEO" mind you and self-proclaimed expert on the effects of fame because he lives in LA and is "in the industry" (insert eyeroll here) continued to go after anyone who didn't agree with his disseting position. His tone got more and more condescending. His message gave way to more and more vitriol. And eventually, he ended up looking like the same undeserving egotist he had accused the original poster of being. What makes this kinda hilarious is that the person who posted the article didn't say a single word and didn't engage a single person in the thread. His absence allowed more and more people to reveal so much about themselves through their points of view that people like me could bear witness to. As a result, I can now form my own conclusions, especially about their character, writing ability, education level, maturity level, etc. just from sipping my tea and watching it all go down. In flames.

There's a superpower that we all have at our disposal but often forget. It's the power of OBSERVATION.

Now, more than ever, it is easy to spot those who are destined to win and those who are destined to either lose or continue to bubble below the surface. And the easiest way to spot them is through observation. In business the term du jour is relevance. Having a say. Being heard. Claiming a seat at the table. Garnering respect. These are elements of relevance, for sure. However, in order to become relevant you must first understand the game, the rules, its players and how to win the game using the tools and talents you have. What is often overlooked in our haste to win the game is the value in simply observing every play that is being made. Understanding the players and usurping their strategies. Watching for consistencies in their plays and looking for your opportunities. Listening to every audible, especially the ones that are much more bluff than substance. And once you've sat on the sidelines long enough, memorized and mastered the rules, collected and refined your data, memorized all of the players and their nuances, and know for certain how to win the game, you leave. 


Often jumping in and playing the same game isn't the most successful move. Sometimes it's better to take all of that information, walk up the stairs, and knock on the team owner's door yourself. When he opens it, introduce yourself, lead with your top findings and the opportunities you see that will make his team more successful. Then, wait for his reaction. You'll be shocked to find that more often than not, he'll pull out the chair for you himself, at his own table. The ultimate win...without all the sweat equity.

If you want to truly start crafting your own success, take these two lessons away:

  1. Shut up, watch and listen. As often and as actively as you can. Observe everyone of influence in every situation in minute detail and take notes. Note their tone, their consistencies/inconsistencies, how they play, when they choose to pass the ball or decide to run it. Note their propensity toward ego vs. facts. Note how engaged they are in the conversation or if they (like you) are observing. That's how you'll determine whether or not you're dealing with a formidable opponent or someone relying on their gift of gab or influence to play the game. It's easier to win once you actually take the time to observe and determine HOW. 
  2. Emotions are business DEATH. When we become emotional we lose our ability to reason. Reason is what allows us to create strategies that win. Emotion has never created single a winning strategy in its miserable little life. Yet it's derailed them for centuries. Take, for instance, the comments section scenario. It's the Sirens' Song. It lures you in with the promise of relevance and eventually causes your destruction simply by being guilty by association among a bunch of emotional trolls who are more concerned about being right than positioning themselves to win. In this case, usurping the incredible lesson of the original article. They're too busy trading emotional, ego-laden points of view and scrapping for a relevance or a "win" that simply doesn't exist. Meanwhile, the strategic dude with the ball has already scored the winning touchdown, has showered, and is driving past the trolls still on the field running plays. It's kinda symbolic of life these days. So many emotional players on the field with no gameplan trying to spike a football they'll never hold. Often being on the sidelines with your notepad is where it's at and where real success is crafted. 

Oberservation takes restraint, practice and bit of badassery. Buck the trend in today's boardrooms. Instead of jumping in just to be heard and appear relevant, try chilling in the background for a bit and watching the action go down. All the information you need to take the right action of your own will be on display. Observe, take really good notes, and then bolt to the end zone with the gaps you've identified in the coverage. That's how you win. That's the new shit. 


I'm writing a book on "radical consciousness" called I Decided to Change My Life Today. My intent with the book is to grab us collectively by the shoulders and give a nice, rough shake. It's time that we accept that we are living our lives on an autopilot that has been dictated to us for years, to the detriment of our families, our employers, this earth, our communties, and most importantly, OURSELVES. By consciously bucking the trends and dialing way back in our lives, to the point where we're conscious of every single thought we think, each word we say, and every action we take, we can actually become "new" again and begin living our lives with truth, empathy, and clarity. Much of what I write in this book can be applied to business and our individual roles within our companies. The tenets I espouse could literally save a company millions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of wasted manhours, and create teams of engaged, unilaterally happy and hyper productive employees. I sincerely hope that you purchase a copy when it's released early 2018. This isn't meant as a PSA. It's sincerely meant to help spark a revolution that could hopefully help business evolve and change our lives for the better, starting with ourselves.

Phoenix Normand