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Getting IT Together: Your Intellect is Crippling You and How to Fix it!

M. Nora Klaver Posted by M. Nora Klaver, Executive Coach, Bouchard Executive Coaching Ltd..

Nora is an accomplished executive coach with 25 years of experience developing corporate leaders. She is the author of Mayday! Asking For Help In Times of Need.

Getting IT Together: Your Intellect is Crippling You and How to Fix it!

My clients are brilliant. Freaking brilliant. I have one client who dropped out of University of Chicago because he was bored! Another holds a dozen patents. A third was asked to work with me because her boss simply couldn’t understand the concepts she was presenting — her thinking was too much for those around her. Oh, and let’s not forget the grandmaster in chess.

Yes, I work with incredibly smart people. And often, the reason I’m working with them is because their intellect got them into trouble.. Like any strength, intelligence — if you rely on it too much — can become a weakness. For these brainiacs, their go-to strategy was to think through every problem. Like the carpenter with a hammer, every problem seemed like a nail.  Unfortunately, most of the problems that snag my clients don’t need hammers, they need something with a little more finesse.

My experience as a coach shows me that we often need to let go of what we know. Knowledge is a very seductive thing. The more we accumulate it, the more we think we understand. The more we think we understand, the more we think we control. The more we think we control, the less we really do and the more we turn off others.That makes it hard to be collaborative and part of a team. And work is nothing if not a team sport.

Many of my clients think they know how to solve problems. And for the most part, they do. But every once in a while they are faced with an unexpected problem or issue — one that may have nothing to do with what they know. In fact, it has more to do with how they are and how they interact with others.

And that’s because most of the really tough issues come from interpersonal interactions — and intellect is usually useless in those circumstances. Yet, my stalwart techies and engineers don’t give up. They wrack their beautiful brains to try to find the right answer, but nothing comes. They’ve tried everything they already know how to do.

So let me say again, this is because most of the big problems they experience have nothing to do with what they know. It has to do with how they are and how they are interacting with others.

My bored former University of Chicago student? His issue was that he couldn’t tolerate interruptions. My patent-holding client? His problem was that he couldn’t find a reason to respect his boss. My client who couldn’t get her idea across? She was too impatient with those she was supposed to be teaching and impressing. Oh, and the grand chess champ? He was so condescending no one liked him.

These problems can’t be solved by more thinking. They can’t be figured out. There’s not  a puzzle here. These issues can only be solved by being different and by interacting differently. Being more tolerant, respectful, and patient is what changed things for these geniuses.

Recently, I vowed to be more joyful in my life. I’m not typically happy-go-lucky, so saying I was going to be joyful was a brave declaration on my part. I spent days trying to figure out HOW I was going to do this — be more joyful. I finally realized I was thinking through an emotional issue — just like my brilliant clients! Instead, I just had to BE joyful. It is so much easier than I imagined!

So next time you find yourself stuck in an interpersonal wicket, do yourself a favor and stop thinking about it. Be different instead. If you need help, ask! In fact, ask me! I’ll be happy to show you how to get out of your own way! Ask Nora!

This is the third in a series of posts that celebrates 2016 as the Year of IT. It is dedicated to those brilliant men and women who have chosen to change the world through technology. If you’d like to read past posts, click here. If you’d like to learn more about my coaching services, click here. If you’d like to download a free copy of IT Best Practices, click here.

M. Nora Bouchard, MA, is a seasoned and deeply experienced executive coach. She’s had to learn to let go of her intellect and to feel her way many times inner career. Along the way, Nor has guided CIOS, leaders of IT teams as well as many others who wrangle code, DBAs, data center ops, and network administrators. She appreciates the analytical mindset and is familiar with its light and dark sides. Nora is author of Mayday! Asking for Help in Times of Need. With over 10,000 hours of coaching and hundreds of hours facilitating workshops, Nora can help you find the success you deserve. Learn more at www.mnorabouchard.com.

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