Every parent, I’ve ever met, who’s waiting for the birth of their first child hopes for two things. First, they hope the child will be healthy – ten fingers, ten toes, all the plumbing works. Second, they hope the child will be bright – that magical combination of smart and passionate – knows what she wants and will insist on getting it. Sounds so endearing.
I’ve also seen that a parent, who chooses to and is able to have a second child, changes their wish list a bit. They hope that the child will be healthy. That’s it – healthy. Because… the idea of the bright child is far more attractive than the reality of the bright child.
Bright children do a lot of, initially, exciting things – they start talking early and never stop, they start walking early and never stop, they start exploring early and never stop. And, the one thing that also starts early and NEVER stops is the obsession with “Why” questions.
Why do I have to go to bed? Why do I have to get up? Why do I have to wear pants? Why do I have to eat peas? Why, why, why, why… it never stops.
Bright kids grow up to become bright teenagers who grow up to become bright adults. And then, when we need some new members of our team, we go to HR and ask for – bright ones – smart and passionate. HR is wary but, they go get us what we say we want. And then, they listen to us complain, almost daily, moving forward, about – the fact that they’re bright.
Because they’re still obsessed with “why”. Why do we use this software and not that? Why do we process applications this way and not another? Why are we promoting this product and not that one? Why is she being promoted and not me?
Why, why, why, why… it never stops. And, therein lies the root cause of the friction we discussed in last week’s blog. Different people – all equally bright – have different “why” concerns and those concerns are often in conflict. If you want to work with bright people, get used to managing friction. If you want no friction – stop hiring smart people who care – it’s just that simple.