by Gay Gaddis | Published by Fortune


[ARTICLE] What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career?

Growing up in Texas, we had a lot of “sayings” and this one is the best advice I ever got: Never miss a chance to shut up. However, as a self–proclaimed extrovert, I often find this difficult to do. Talking has never been a problem for me. Yet as I reflect on some of the best business decisions I’ve ever made, most of them were conceived after listening to other people’s opinions and insights before making a move. In other words, I had to shut up to effectively understand the perspective of others.

Make it a discipline to listen to others, especially those with different strengths, experiences, and views. It is easy to listen to people who are similar to yourself and share the same position on issues, but it’s much harder to consider opposing views. Yet the best decisions come out of diversity of thought. In fact, when meeting people for the first time, it is always a good idea to be brief and to the point. That’s how the commonly used phrase “elevator pitch” was born. Rambling on makes you seem insecure and unfocused.