How 360 Degree Thinking Can Change Your Life

Neil StraussNeil9 Comments

I’m going to share with you a bedrock concept that I’ve never taught or shared before. It has dramatically influenced my life. It is called 360 DEGREE THINKING.

360 Degree Thinking is a way to maximize success and minimize failure. A way to make a difference with whatever you do. And a way to, most importantly, operate with integrity and consciousness as you grow your personal platform.

360-degree-integration

The general idea is to widen the space just a little bit between PLANNING and ACTING.

You’re going to do this to consider the effects and repercussions of your actions before committing to them.

And here’s how it works: Before doing anything that will go out into the public or to your clients or customers in any way, do a mental calculation.

And you want to do this using the skill of EMPATHY.

Put yourself in the head of each different type of person who will receive it. Not just the customer or reader or client or whoever’s supposed to enjoy it, but anyone else who may possibly come across it.

This may include prospective customers, the media, your competition (though I don’t believe there is such a thing as competition), others at your company, even those who may be giving you future opportunities.

And then make sure you are comfortable with how this material is going to land with each person. You don’t have to please them all, but you do have to know what their reaction is going to be, be willing to live with it, and most importantly, be one step ahead of it.

Let me give you a concrete example: I am just finishing my next book Game Over? after four years of intense research and writing. When I wrote the first draft, it was solely for myself. I wanted to get all the wild adventures and deeply transformative material necessary in there.

But it wasn’t done. This version I just wrote for MYSELF.

For the second draft, I widened to 180 Degree I thought about the reader. The cardinal sin of writing is to bore the reader. So with that in mind, no matter how attached I may have been to a story or a teaching concept, I went through and removed it. Instead of thinking about what I wanted to convey in this draft, I thought about what the reader would most enjoy and be moved by reading.

This is where most people stop.

But what separates those who succeed on a grand level from those who don’t is this next step: I widened to 360 Degree Thinking. And this is what I’m doing now: It is to now re-read and re-work the book with not just readers in mind, but critics and even haters. And to make the book airtight to even their criticisms and insults. This means NOT COMPROMISING but, instead, nailing down every fact to make sure it’s accurate, making sure every thesis is “defensible,” making sure there’s nothing unintentionally offensive that will alienate a desired reader, and anticipating and defusing criticisms and objections within the book itself.

Now that the book is airtight, it is ready for the public. And then, as with The Game, even if it is criticized, most of the answers, rebuttals, or even agreements are already in the book itself.

(And if you’re interested in the writing side of things, I discuss more of this process in a recent episode of Tim Ferriss’s podcast.)

9 Comments on “How 360 Degree Thinking Can Change Your Life”

  1. Sounds like a good 30 day challenge.

    P.S. Neil, is there any chance you would share your first or second draft with the public (or inner circle), after the book comes out? Maybe just a chapter?

  2. Great article Neil! I started doing that with my close friends. I write screenplays. I send them to my friends. Everytime I put a different note such as “read it as I was your worst enemy” or “don’t think I’m your best friend but act as if you will invest millions on this screenplay”, etc.

    I think next level is to do that with people I don’t know to be able to screen the 360° of point of views!

  3. Great post and something I’ll definitely try to incorporate.

    Also, knowing your passion for Ulysses, I thought you might enjoy this recent release–The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce?’s Ulysses.

    Rather than a biography of Joyce (who sometimes comes off rather badly in these pages), it’s a biography of the book itself.

  4. I think I have clicked and read every single article from newest to older, and this is the first one that really resonated with me and something new I learned at my first job. Social Intelligence and how you are perceived is everything. You could be awesome at something technical, but ultimately over time if you’re just a snob-nosed technically gifted person, people will come to you because you’re good, not because they like you. And ultimately, establishing rapport and lasting relationships with people(at least to me) seems more rewarding than the instant gratification of knowing you helped someone briefly because you were smarter than they were in this one secluded area. Love this article, and have been mindful of practicing more empathy in my responses for the past half year.

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