Aim to Elevate the Whole, not the Parts
Updated: Jan 25, 2020
“If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.”
Have you heard this quote thrown around in company retreats and business circles? I have, and tend to agree about 99% of the time. As a founder, and therefore a leader of an organization, it seems critical that we share our knowledge and experience with fresh minds, who are seeking a subject matter expert. In that case, being the smartest in the room is simply being the most experienced. That notwithstanding, I’d like to approach this same situation from a different perspective.
How does the Highest Common Denominator align with this quote? Where does it intersect, when the HCD isn’t about being the smartest in the room, but the best person you can be to achieve your potential? I think the main difference lies in where the emphasis is placed. When thinking about being the “smartest person in the room” the ego and evaluation element just seems unproductive to me. If you have to make a call to action, the goal isn’t rising alone, it is about elevating, together. Community value is predicated on self-worth.
In practice I’ve seen this happen before. When you interact with somebody at the HCD they feel like they are being challenged to communicate and perform at the upper limit possible for them. Like most things worth doing this isn’t easy but it also creates a tremendous sense of pride when accomplished. Not only that but I feel like it motivates individuals to raise their knowledge so that in the next interaction we have effectively raised the Highest Common Denominator - creating a virtuous cycle. Every time we raise the common denominator we don’t only educate and inform ourselves but we push others around us to do the same. At some point, after enough time, those who were interacting at their upper limit will be pulling up others who now find themselves in the same position.
In this way, we all grow and that helps us no matter what endeavor we are all involved in together.