Here’s the end result of what I started pondering on a few weeks ago.
It seems to me, most people tend to go through life vaguely satisfied with how it’s progressing, only seeking to change said progress for what they perceive as the better when they have the opportunity. Some people make the opportunity, others only take it when it is presented. As I touched on before, those with learning disabilities tend to be among those who fall into the latter category.
As I may have mentioned, I have Asperger’s Syndrome. I also have a genius-level IQ. This has made me somewhat paranoid in my interactions with people, and I generally hold myself back from fully expressing myself to those I don’t know. It also means that I can be somewhat overwhelming in some way or other to those I do know.
When I was diagnosed, I was able to apply my considerable intellect to the new data that had been presented, and it wasn’t long before I adopted a policy of examining everything that happened to me for later/subconscious analysis (yes, I have trained myself to subconsciously process social interaction data after the fact). Hence the paranoia. And also hence the critical examination of everything that potentially affects me.
If there’s a new project pushed my way, I assess it. If I am given a new task, I assess it. If someone is doing something that could affect me, I assess it. Why are they doing that? Why do it that way? Why me? Why now? What are the benefits? What is the objective? Would the objective be better served with someone else doing that? Would the objective be better served by doing that in a different way? Naturally, all this does not come at once, and the answers are not always easily definable, especially if I do not have all relevant information.
It is partly because of this that I was fired from MTG. I asked too many questions that could accurately be answered with, “no, but [Brian] can only be in one place at a time.” Yeah, and the place I was in was the doldrums, doing fuck-all because I kept asking inconvenient questions and trying to demonstrate that my knowledge, talent and experience was greater than pretty much everyone else there, so why don’t you put me to good use occasionally? It’s one of the reasons I called the boss incompetent. (There was someone at MTG who really wanted to do front-of-house duties and public speaking and so on. He had a stutter, a poor vocabulary, poor diction, and a poor memory – about the only thing going for him was his loud voice. They gave him short announcements to make, parts in promo videos, and generally tried to help him in his goal, which was good. What was bad was that they didn’t do more than cursorily rehearse his lines with him, they didn’t give him any coaching on presentation, they didn’t drill him until he could do the job properly. Each and every one of his appearances required multiple attempts, he messed up what he had to say, he wasn’t clear in getting the message across, and he looked ridiculous in a tuxedo jacket that was too big for him and nearly came down to his knees. If you really want him to do the announcement, get someone competent to coach him on his lines right up to the last minute, and make sure he understands what he’s announcing and why, give him some elocution lessons, encourage him to read and help him do so, and for God’s sake get him out of that monkey suit! But I digress.) Asking questions, especially awkward ones, is a good thing, because it indicates that the asker is thinking.
I am perhaps lucky in that I went to a good school (the top 30% most able pupils in the area) and studied the sciences at A-Level. I am trained in analytical thinking, and my high intelligence means I can do a lot of it fairly quickly (especially when relevant information is obvious). Whether it be dodgy news reports, marketing propaganda dressed up as research, or a theatre project, I can quickly and (usually) accurately divine the purpose, practicality and probably result – all because I have been trained to think, and have kept in practice.
Weirdly, I am much better at answering questions about something than working out what people might want to know about it and giving out information in anticipation. Don’t know why – you’d think that with all the practice I get with asking questions I’d be able to work out the questions that other people would ask. But no, not really. I can follow a set of guidelines or a template on what information to provide, but usually I have to be put on the spot and create my answer from nothing more than the data in my head.
The point is, if you regularly think, you will be able to spot things like problems, inconsistencies, hidden motives, and opportunities more often. The more often you can spot these things, the more often you can challenge them, and take the opportunities. If you are good at thinking, you are more likely to be able to create opportunities, rather than waiting for them to come along. Not that this sort of thing doesn’t have its’ own problems – the status quo is too solid for a few questions to shake it, and those who are used to having their way despite the flaws do not like the flaws being regularly highlighted.
If you don’t think, if you don’t ask why?, if you take everything at face value, what is the point? To echo Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock, “what must it be like in your tiny little minds?” While he’s amazed at how empty and vacant everyone else’s heads are compared to his, I’m amazed that so few other people actually apply the powers of their mind so infrequently. The human brain takes up nearly 2% of our bodyweight, (about the same as the liver) contains 86million neurons with maybe a thousand times more interconnections between them, and, as The Matrix points out, has more processing capacity than the average desktop computer. So why not use it?
If you don’t use it, you don’t learn. If you don’t question everything, you’ll never be told the truth by those who have an advantage in not telling you. If you don’t analyse, you won’t find out what went wrong and why. Of course, if you don’t know what to look for, you won’t learn either. Nor will people who have an advantage in not telling you the truth simply tell you the truth because you ask questions – but if you ask questions, it becomes harder for them to perpetrate the lies. And if you don’t have all the information, you won’t be able to analyse correctly. So how do you get all the information? By asking questions!
Because, whether you are asking why you’re having to do the boss’ favourite’s latest inane project, or asking someone you recently had a conversation with whether they felt offended by how you got your point across, asking a question is the most efficient way of getting information. And you should always check the answer.
(Did I offend anyone with how I got my point across?)