The Man With A Hammer Or The Man With A Toolbox?

Amateurs worry about delivering their solution. They have an answer, so they listen with the intent of fitting it in.

Professionals worry about listening to the questions. They know they’ll figure an answer out, or are even comfortable declining the work when appropriate. They listen with the intent of genuinely hearing what the question is.

It’s hard to hear the whole question before trying to answer it. Really hard. And that’s an important observation. It tells us where the opportunities are.

The amateur approach, and one too common across too many industries, is to answer as soon as given the opportunity. “To the man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”

The professional approach, and the real opportunity, is to listen. The professional makes sure the question is heard before offering an answer. “To the man with a toolbox, there’s no shortage of jobs to be done. His only question is where to start?”

The man with a toolbox still has a hammer. He just knows when to use it and when not to. Patient listening leads to bespoke answering. This is where the opportunities are. This is where professionals create their value.

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