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Peeling the Onion: 3 (More) Leadership Lessons From Richard Feynman

Yesterday, we talked about Richard Feynman, the straight-talking Queens physicist, and his strategies for thinking out of the box.

Feynman, as well as being a left-field thinker, was able to approach problems with a probing light. In the video below he discusses his approach to solving both huge and small problems. His approach consists of three basic rules:

1. Don’t Make Assumptions: No matter what your problem is–don’t assume a possible answer because it will limit your perspective. Let the nature of the problem present itself naturally.

2. Don’t Ever Expect a Fulfilling Answer: Some problems are huge but their answers are sometimes simple. It’s not about finding a nice answer–it’s about learning and understanding.

3. Always, Always, Doubt: Doubting everything is a slippery slope but it will force you ask harder and harder questions and demand more and more answers. As Feynman says, it’s better to doubt everything and ask constant questions than to be content with wrong information.

Feynman wrestles with both large and big questions but his approach is always the same. Leaders who are forced to deal with tough problems should look at them in a similar light. Always doubting, never assuming, and never hoping will help exercise the mind and allow new ideas to surface.