“Think Dale”. I remember Dave saying it to me. He was a mentor who always pushed me to look beyond the obvious. I became a better professional because of him, although at the time, I wasn’t always happy.

He taught me to ask more questions, digging deeper to make certain I had the information needed to make a decision. Sometimes he would challenge me with,

“What question should you be asking?”

I remember early in my career telling him about a 20% rate discount being proposed, when he asked me “what else should you be asking?” I thought 20% was great and didn’t think there was another question., “Is it really 20%?”, he queried of me. He went on to say I should be asking “what percentage discount are we currently receiving?”, or “20% off of what?” Then he gave me a quick lesson about numbers and how they tell different stories. He said, “Dale, a 20% discount sounds big, but if we currently are receiving a 15% discount, and they increase it to 20%, it’s only a small increase. But if the 20% discount is off the current rate, then that is a significant reduction. Do you know which it is?” The light went on for me and from then on, I always dug deeper when anyone used a percentage with me.

I don’t believe we “think” these days, no one makes us. We’ve become way too passive about receiving information and blindly assuming it to be true. Do we not know how or don’t want to dig deeper? I suspect it’s a little of both. It’s not healthy.

No one is conditioned to think anymore. We put warning labels on things that shouldn’t need one because people don’t think. Here are some of my favorite warning labels for different products.

Chainsaw: Do not hold the wrong end of a chainsaw.

Washing machine: Do not put any person in this washer.

Superman costume: Warning – This costume does not enable flight or super strength.

Iron: Do not iron clothes on body.

Ladder: DO NOT Use ladder near power lines

There is a Latin term with legal implications, Caveat emptor, which should be used in our own lives more often. It’s referred to when purchasing property or other goods and it means “let the buyer beware.” I’m not an attorney, so my definitions aren’t legal, but to me it means, “It’s your responsibility to examine carefully before you buy” or “don’t rely only on what you are told by the seller.” It might also be defined with one word, “think”.

We must do a better job thinking in our professional and personal life. Here are couple of examples I’ve witnessed.

A new staff member is hired based on a great resume.  No one dug deeper in the interview to learn more and later find out they don’t have the skills and experiences needed for the job. Everyone wants to blame the candidate and their resume, yet the problem was with those interviewing. They were lazy.

Sales are down and the team members are asked why. They explain away their results by blaming it on customer access (we can’t get in to see them) and lack of marketing support. Sadly, it’s blindly accepted. No one asks to see their list of calls they made, the notes from those calls or their correction plan. The results don’t change and months later a consultant is hired who asks the questions that should have been asked by leadership.

God gave you the ability to think and reason. Use your gifts and think.

A fool will believe anything; smart people watch their step. Proverbs 14:15 (GNT)

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