Counterintuitive Life-Changing Principles, Part 4

Some of the greatest breakthroughs in history have been the result of intentionally going against the prevailing thinking of the day to instead boldly go in a very different direction.

Welcome to installment four of a periodic series that presents some powerful, life-changing counterintuitive principles that when put to use, can lead to breakthrough results.  These are compiled from a number of lessons I learned since I sold craft items door-to-door at age six.  I’m not guaranteeing success, but they sure worked wonders for me throughout my career.


A Half-Dozen Powerful Counterintuitive Principles So Far

In the first part of this series we defined how breakthroughs often happen when we go in the opposite direction from what seems to be true.  We examined these counterintuitive principles that you’ll want to familiarize yourself with if you haven’t already:

  • Counterintuitive Life-Changing Principle #1: You Must Go Slow In Order To Go Fast. Your life literally depends on this principle, yet we’re so often in a hurry that we skip over the go slow part, only to have to do things over again. 
  • Counterintuitive Life-Changing Principle #2: Limit Hiring People Just Like You. If you’re tasked with hiring people, then you’ve been successful in what you do.  Yet when we hire people who are just like us, trouble happens.  Find out why!

In the second installment we took a deep dive into two more life-changing principles:

  • Counterintuitive Life-Changing Principle #3: If it Ain’t Broke, Break It On Purpose. Conventional wisdom tells us to focus on the things that are broken and leave things alone when they’re working well.  Yet intentionally breaking something to reinvent it enables vast improvements.
  • Counterintuitive Life-Changing Principle #4: Let Go of Control to Gain Control. Learn why you are usually the small end of the funnel and that restricts radical growth.  You gain much, much more when you give control to the folks doing the actual work. 

In Part 3 we took a deep dive into counterintuitive life-changing principles five and six:

  • Counterintuitive Life-Changing Principle #5: The Golden Rule is Not Golden. Because everyone is different and has his or her unique set of preferences, don’t do to them what you want them to do to you – instead, figure out what they prefer you do to them and then do it. 
  • Counterintuitive Life-Changing Principle #6: Failing Fast is Better Than Failing Slowly. We all have failed, we all are failing in something right now, and we all will fail in something else.  The faster we can recognize that something isn’t working, the quicker we can stop doing it and do something different.

And now, on to our next group of counterintuitive life-changing principles!


Counterintuitive Life-Changing Principle #7: Fear of Offending May Offend More Than Offending Itself

How many times have you found yourself a situation like this:  Your coworker Pam has a certain bad habit that you and everyone else on staff sees, but she’s oblivious to it.  Everyone is afraid to address it directly with Pam, fearing she will somehow be offended.  You – like your coworkers – have all tried to ignore it or use a subtle approach to address it with Pam, but to no effect.  So, eyes roll whenever she does that thing she does and people talk about it behind her back, but sadly, no one does anything to help her. 

Because no one has the courage to address the issue in a loving and respectful way with Pam, she doesn’t know that her behavioral flaws are causing her negative career consequences.  Like being overlooked for a promotion or raise, which could help her family.  What she does not know about, she cannot fix.


Wouldn’t the more caring thing to do be to address it in a kind way with Pam, before it becomes the negative that she is best known for?  And what would she say if she knew that you were deliberately holding back something that could help her?   Consider the advice in this post about having the courage to speak up.

Bottom line: be committed to helping people grow past their blind spot limitations and have the courage to care enough to speak candidly and directly.


Counterintuitive Life-Changing Principle #8: Appearing Weaker Makes You Look Stronger

Have you ever noticed that some people use false confidence and bravado to cover their insecurity?  Consider Stan and Rachel, the two people shown in the picture. Stan believes that he has all the answers and lets others know this.  Rachel easily admits that she could be wrong.  Who is the stronger person? 

Only truly confident people admit their weaknesses.  It’s called being transparent.  Everybody has a set of strengths and weaknesses. Stan has a difficult time owning up to his shortcoming (which are readily apparent to people who know Stan and work with him).  Most people think that Stan makes himself seem weak when he brags about his capabilities.

By not admitting to the weaknesses people know he has, Stan loses credibility, he loses trust, and he loses respect.  On the other hand, because Rachel freely acknowledges her weaknesses and mistakes, people trust her, respect her, and give her opinions more credibility than Stan’s. 

Over the course of a workweek Rachel acknowledges her vulnerability in ways such as:

  • Asking a fellow staff member to “please look over this Idea I have and help me spot what I’m missing.”
  • Immediately apologizing to a customer when she discovers a mistake she made.
  • Asking her supervisor and peers for candid, honest feedback on what she could do better.
  • Letting other people speak first, then speaking in ways that acknowledge the ideas of others as well as her expressing own thoughts.
  • Quickly asking for help on assignments where it is appropriate to do so.

These are things Stan wouldn’t do because he thinks that doing so makes him appear weak.  Just the opposite is true…Stan is seen as less capable and credible, while Rachel is seen as trustworthy and more capable.

Bottom line: True strength is seen in being courageously vulnerable and transparent around others.  It’s called being genuine.  And genuine people consistently earn the trust, respect, and confidence of others.

Next time we’ll take a look at two more life-changing counterintuitive principles.  In the meantime, challenge yourself to put these powerful principles to work and watch your career move forward!


Bottom Line

I’m not advocating you wholly abandon conventional thinking in favor of replacing everything you do with a counter-intuitive approach.  What I am suggesting is that becoming a slave to conventional thinking will hold you back in life, whenever you should have zigged when convention says, “zag.”

This post is taken from the best practices taught in our internationally acclaimed leadership and sales training programs, Leading Through People™ 30, Counterintuitive Principles to Ignite Passion & Effectiveness.

I love working with people and organizations who want to improve their effectiveness! Here are several outstanding resources that can help you and your organization to go to the next level:

  • Improving your (or your team s) management and leadership skills: Leading Through People . This acclaimed program equips participants in thousands of current and emerging best practices of leadership, hiring, and talent development.
  • Raising your (or your team s) selling and sales management effectiveness: B2B Sales Essentials (among the 30-plus courses we offer are ones on selling with emotional intelligence and storyselling!)
  • Conducting a more effective job search: Get a Better Job Faster

For the past 25 years I’ve worked with some of the world’s top employers by helping them get the most out of their talented people. Thanks to our clients, the company I founded in 1998, Boyer Management Group, was recognized by CEO Monthly Magazine for its “Most Influential CEO Award, 2023” in the executive coaching field.  Our coaching programs produce significant results in compressed periods of time.  Our extensive leadership development course catalog provides effective skills-building for everyone in the organization, from the new and developing leader to the seasoned C-level executive.  BMG boasts one of the most extensive sales and sales management curriculums anywhere, with behavioral assessments to help develop talent. I also help job seekers, higher ed, and employment services connect people to better jobs faster. To find out more, please visit us at, email us at, or call us at 215-942-0982. 


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