“I don’t know who you are but you must be some kind of superstar” – Jamelia #MondayMorningWakeUpCall
In the 1990s, 2 economists and a sociologist from MIT embarked on a research project on how the most productive people build mental models. Crawling through all the data, they noticed that the productive people shared a number of common traits. Three to be specific, explained below:
- Superstars seek projects that require them to seek out new colleagues and learn new abilities
Conventional wisdom holds that productivity rises when people do the same kind of tasks over and over. Repetition makes us faster and more efficient because we don’t have to learn fresh skills with each new assignment. But as the economists looked more closely, they found the opposite. The superstars didn’t choose tasks that leveraged existing skills. Instead, they signed up for projects that required them to seek out new colleagues and learn new abilities. It’s also what sets them up to become a generalist specialist, probably the ones who’ll own the future – Generalist vs Specialist debate
- Superstars take up assignments that are in their early stages
Another trait they found common is superstars were disproportionately drawn to assignments that were in their early stages. This despite common knowledge that joining a project in its infancy is risky.
However, the beginning of a project is also more information rich. By joining fledgling initiatives, the superstars gain access to knowledge, trends and lessons which are usually missed out by other executives.
- Superstars have a more productive method of thinking.
And they love to generate theories, lots and lots of theories about all kinds of topics, to their colleagues, the world and themselves. They probe deeper to come up with explanation after explanation about practically everything.
They create mental models by telling stories about what they expect to see and happen.
By envisioning what will happen, the mental models create a sub-conscious plan. What will occur first? What are potential obstacles? How will you help pre-empt them? By telling stories about what you expect to occur makes it easier to decide where your focus should go when your plan encounters real life.