Why can’t you be more like me?

Lessons in empathy

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When I was a kid, I was always the first one done with the exam. After fifteen minutes, I’d put down my pencil and look up from my desk, only to realize that everyone else was still on the second page. My teachers assumed I was either cheating, rushing or horsing around; and my classmates assumed I was either kissing ass or showing off.

But none of the above were true. I’m simply wired to work fast. Velocity is part of my genetic package. It’s a pattern that’s persisted in every phase of my life. I can’t remember not working that way.

What’s hard, then, especially as an adult, is extending empathy to people who don’t have the same cognitive writing as I do. Because I just assume that everybody thinks like me. Everybody wants to finish the exam quickly. Everybody wants to execute with volume and velocity.

But I know that’s a naïve, myopic worldview. In fact, every time I catch myself silently screaming, why can’t you be more like me, I remember something my mentor once told me.

Don’t assume everybody wants to operate at your level.

I have a musician friend who works in the opposite way that I do. Her songwriting system involves planning and outlining and editing and rewriting and rehearsing pruning and perfecting. Ghaaa. Just thinking about her creative process makes my eye twitch. Every time she tells me about her latest recording project, I just want to grab her by the lapel and say, you magnificent putz, stop stalling and just sing for god’s sake!

But that’s not my responsibility. It’s not my job to coddle and teach and rescue everyone who doesn’t approach creativity in the same way as I do. And I’m done trying to convert people to my religion.

Instead, I’m working on having empathy for brains that are wired differently than my own. No matter how badly I want to call an electrician.

Whom are you trying to make just like you?

For a copy of the list called, “27 Ways to Over Communicate Anything,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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