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如果苏格拉底穿越到现在,他会对企业管理者们说什么?

如果苏格拉底穿越到现在,他会对企业管理者们说什么?

Eric Weiner 2020年08月29日
他是第一位“将哲学从天上召唤下来”的哲学家。

苏格拉底有很多理念可以应用于现代生活和商业。图片来源:Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images

可以想见,当代商业领袖肯定没空熬夜思考苏格拉底的哲学。这实在可惜,其实苏格拉底作为古雅典惹人讨厌的家伙、西方哲学的守护神,以及第一位哲学殉道者,有很多理念可以应用于现代生活和商业。

用罗马演说家西塞罗的话来说,苏格拉底并不是第一位哲学家,但他是第一位“将哲学从天上召唤下来”的哲学家。苏格拉底哲学偏实际,他主张与其关注生活的意义,不如多过有意义的生活。

当然能赚钱也不错。苏格拉底是石匠的儿子,最熟悉的是古雅典的集市。他精通商人的语言,与他交谈的人大多是工匠和小企业主。苏格拉底从来没有写过管理方面的书(真的一个字都没写过),但如果他要写,应该会是以下这样。

经常保持疑惑

“所有哲学都从疑惑开始,”苏格拉底说。商业企业也应如此。疑惑并非如蓝眼眸或雀斑一样天生,疑惑是种技能,人人都可学习。苏格拉底认真介绍道。

我们常常把疑惑与好奇混为一谈,其实两者并不一样。好奇是不耐烦的,总想追逐下一个突然出现的闪亮物体。疑惑则是能持续的,疑惑是好奇的依靠,是向上拔高,是勇敢之举。

苏格拉底会说,现代商业世界没留下什么产生疑惑的空间。不管通过Zoom还是现场开会,收益报告和会议的压力都没留下让人思考的空间,但思考才是真正实现突破的关键。史蒂夫·乔布斯就曾疑惑,如果把电话和便携式电脑结合会怎样,于是iPhone便诞生了。

慢慢来

疑惑需要时间。不管是丰盛的饭菜,还是全体员工会议,都不能操之过急。“当心繁忙生活中的贫瘠,”苏格拉底说。他说话从不匆忙。即便其他人感到厌烦和愤怒,他也坚持慢慢来。同理,优秀的领导者从不仓促地做出决定。他们不怕停顿。

停顿并非故障,更不是错误。正如苏格拉底所想,停顿是孕育好创意的沃土。这就是为何优秀管理者会鼓励团队有规律地且积极地停顿。

要解决“对的问题”

硅谷商界格外注重解决问题。苏格拉底会说,很好,但有没有正确地找出值得解决的问题?

如果提不出正确的问题,就无法解决问题。然而,“我们的文化通常倾向于没经历问题之前就想解决问题,”旧金山州立大学哲学教授雅各布·尼德尔曼说。体验问题意味着亲自感受,而不是匆忙想出解决方案,或者更糟的是,直接弄出个应用程序。

问点“傻问题”

我们很少质疑显而易见的问题,苏格拉底认为这样是错误的。

越明显的事就越需要质疑。从诗人到将军,苏格拉底曾与各类受人尊敬的雅典人交谈,却很快发现他们并不像自己想象中聪明。将军没法告诉他什么是勇气,诗人说不清诗的定义。无论他走到哪里,都会发现有人“不知道自己不知道”。

对苏格拉底来说,最糟糕的无知就是伪装成知识的无知。宽广而诚恳的无知远胜狭隘而可疑的知识。优秀的商界领袖从不假装渊博,也从不怕说“不知道”。

苏格拉底问:你在回避什么?有哪些问题因为答案不言而喻所以你没问出口?

这些都是优秀领导要问的问题。有的问题简单得有些幼稚,却往往能得到最有价值的答案。

为什么要设计开放型的办公室?因为硅谷每家初创企业都这么做。那他们到底为什么这么做呢?你若说这样促进劳动力的平等以及生产力的提高,但你又是如何确定这是正确的呢?

优秀的领导人不怕提出“再明显不过的”问题惹恼人们,就像苏格拉底一样。他让雅典的好人非常恼火,以至于最后那些人要杀了他。

说人话

苏格拉底非常注重定义。他认为,如果不明确定义,就无法解决问题。优秀的领导者不会容忍含糊又造作的说法,而是会坚持让团队使用朴素的语言。要么明确定义在季度报告中随处可见的行话,要么就直接删掉。正如爱因斯坦在苏格拉底时代的2000年之后说的那样:“如果做不到用简单的语言解释清楚,就说明你了解得不够透彻。”

与人交谈

作为一名世界级的健谈者,苏格拉底肯定会反对电子邮件、Slack以及21世纪各种所谓的沟通工具。他对当年类似互联网的那种创新,也就是文字,都充满怀疑。理由是文字只能毫无生气地躺在书页上,而且只朝一个方向传播:从作者到读者。

苏格拉底更喜欢杂乱无章且喋喋不休的谈话。(当代哲学家罗伯特·所罗门称之为“有启迪意义的多嘴”。)正是通过对话中自然的你来我往,人们才能悟到真理。

苏格拉底会敦促人们关掉笔记本电脑,关掉Slack,然后说话。就算不能当面说也没问题,那就拿起电话,说就对了。人们永远也预想不到突破会在何时出现。(财富中文网)

埃里克·韦纳是记者、作家和演说家。他的新书名为《苏格拉底特快》。

译者:Feb

可以想见,当代商业领袖肯定没空熬夜思考苏格拉底的哲学。这实在可惜,其实苏格拉底作为古雅典惹人讨厌的家伙、西方哲学的守护神,以及第一位哲学殉道者,有很多理念可以应用于现代生活和商业。

用罗马演说家西塞罗的话来说,苏格拉底并不是第一位哲学家,但他是第一位“将哲学从天上召唤下来”的哲学家。苏格拉底哲学偏实际,他主张与其关注生活的意义,不如多过有意义的生活。

当然能赚钱也不错。苏格拉底是石匠的儿子,最熟悉的是古雅典的集市。他精通商人的语言,与他交谈的人大多是工匠和小企业主。苏格拉底从来没有写过管理方面的书(真的一个字都没写过),但如果他要写,应该会是以下这样。

经常保持疑惑

“所有哲学都从疑惑开始,”苏格拉底说。商业企业也应如此。疑惑并非如蓝眼眸或雀斑一样天生,疑惑是种技能,人人都可学习。苏格拉底认真介绍道。

我们常常把疑惑与好奇混为一谈,其实两者并不一样。好奇是不耐烦的,总想追逐下一个突然出现的闪亮物体。疑惑则是能持续的,疑惑是好奇的依靠,是向上拔高,是勇敢之举。

苏格拉底会说,现代商业世界没留下什么产生疑惑的空间。不管通过Zoom还是现场开会,收益报告和会议的压力都没留下让人思考的空间,但思考才是真正实现突破的关键。史蒂夫·乔布斯就曾疑惑,如果把电话和便携式电脑结合会怎样,于是iPhone便诞生了。

慢慢来

疑惑需要时间。不管是丰盛的饭菜,还是全体员工会议,都不能操之过急。“当心繁忙生活中的贫瘠,”苏格拉底说。他说话从不匆忙。即便其他人感到厌烦和愤怒,他也坚持慢慢来。同理,优秀的领导者从不仓促地做出决定。他们不怕停顿。

停顿并非故障,更不是错误。正如苏格拉底所想,停顿是孕育好创意的沃土。这就是为何优秀管理者会鼓励团队有规律地且积极地停顿。

要解决“对的问题”

硅谷商界格外注重解决问题。苏格拉底会说,很好,但有没有正确地找出值得解决的问题?

如果提不出正确的问题,就无法解决问题。然而,“我们的文化通常倾向于没经历问题之前就想解决问题,”旧金山州立大学哲学教授雅各布·尼德尔曼说。体验问题意味着亲自感受,而不是匆忙想出解决方案,或者更糟的是,直接弄出个应用程序。

问点“傻问题”

我们很少质疑显而易见的问题,苏格拉底认为这样是错误的。

越明显的事就越需要质疑。从诗人到将军,苏格拉底曾与各类受人尊敬的雅典人交谈,却很快发现他们并不像自己想象中聪明。将军没法告诉他什么是勇气,诗人说不清诗的定义。无论他走到哪里,都会发现有人“不知道自己不知道”。

对苏格拉底来说,最糟糕的无知就是伪装成知识的无知。宽广而诚恳的无知远胜狭隘而可疑的知识。优秀的商界领袖从不假装渊博,也从不怕说“不知道”。

苏格拉底问:你在回避什么?有哪些问题因为答案不言而喻所以你没问出口?

这些都是优秀领导要问的问题。有的问题简单得有些幼稚,却往往能得到最有价值的答案。

为什么要设计开放型的办公室?因为硅谷每家初创企业都这么做。那他们到底为什么这么做呢?你若说这样促进劳动力的平等以及生产力的提高,但你又是如何确定这是正确的呢?

优秀的领导人不怕提出“再明显不过的”问题惹恼人们,就像苏格拉底一样。他让雅典的好人非常恼火,以至于最后那些人要杀了他。

说人话

苏格拉底非常注重定义。他认为,如果不明确定义,就无法解决问题。优秀的领导者不会容忍含糊又造作的说法,而是会坚持让团队使用朴素的语言。要么明确定义在季度报告中随处可见的行话,要么就直接删掉。正如爱因斯坦在苏格拉底时代的2000年之后说的那样:“如果做不到用简单的语言解释清楚,就说明你了解得不够透彻。”

与人交谈

作为一名世界级的健谈者,苏格拉底肯定会反对电子邮件、Slack以及21世纪各种所谓的沟通工具。他对当年类似互联网的那种创新,也就是文字,都充满怀疑。理由是文字只能毫无生气地躺在书页上,而且只朝一个方向传播:从作者到读者。

苏格拉底更喜欢杂乱无章且喋喋不休的谈话。(当代哲学家罗伯特·所罗门称之为“有启迪意义的多嘴”。)正是通过对话中自然的你来我往,人们才能悟到真理。

苏格拉底会敦促人们关掉笔记本电脑,关掉Slack,然后说话。就算不能当面说也没问题,那就拿起电话,说就对了。人们永远也预想不到突破会在何时出现。(财富中文网)

埃里克·韦纳是记者、作家和演说家。他的新书名为《苏格拉底特快》。

译者:Feb

It’s a safe bet most business leaders don’t stay up at night thinking of Socrates. That’s a shame. The gadfly of ancient Athens, patron saint of Western philosophy, and its first martyr has much to teach about modern life and business.

Socrates was not the first philosopher, but he was the first “to call philosophy down from the heavens,” said the Roman orator Cicero. Socratic philosophy is practical: less concerned with the meaning of life than leading meaningful lives.

Profitable ones, too. Socrates, a stonecutter’s son, felt most at home in the agora, or marketplace, of ancient Athens. He was fluent in the language of the merchant, and many of his interlocutors were craftsmen and small business owners. Socrates never wrote a management book (he never penned a single word, in fact) but if he did, it would look something like this.

Wonder on a regular basis

“All philosophy begins with wonder,” Socrates said. The same holds true for all business enterprises. Wonder isn’t something you’re either born with or not, like blue eyes or freckles. Wonder is a skill, one we’re all capable of learning. Socrates was determined to show us how.

We often conflate wonder with curiosity, but they are different. Curiosity is restive, always threatening to chase the next shiny object that pops into view. Not wonder. Wonder lingers. Wonder is curiosity reclined, feet up, drink in hand.

The modern business world, Socrates would say, doesn’t make space for wonder. The pressure of earnings reports and meetings, Zoom or otherwise, leave no room for the sort of expansive wondering that lies at the heart of all genuine breakthroughs. Steve Jobs wondered what would happen if you combined a call phone and a portable computer, and the iPhone was born.

Slow down

Wonder takes time. Like a good meal, or all-staff meeting, it can’t be rushed. “Beware the barrenness of a busy life,” Socrates said. He never hurried his conversations. He persevered even when others grew weary and exasperated. Likewise, a good leader never rushes decisions. They aren’t afraid to pause.

A pause is not a glitch. A pause is not a mistake. A pause, as envisioned by Socrates, is the fertile ground from which good ideas sprout. That’s why good managers encourage their team to pause regularly, and expansively.

Don’t just ask questions—experience them

The business world—Silicon Valley in particular—is fixated on solving problems. That’s fine, Socrates would say, but have you properly identified the problems worth solving?

We can’t solve problems if we don’t first ask the right questions. Yet “our culture has generally tended to solve its problems without experiencing its questions,” says Jacob Needleman, professor of philosophy at San Francisco State University and something of a modern-day Socrates. Experiencing questions means sitting with them, rather than rushing to devise a solution or, God forbid, an app.

Question assumptions, especially your own

We rarely question the obvious. Socrates thought this was a mistake.

The more obvious something seems, the more urgent the need to question it. He buttonholed revered Athenians, everyone from poets to generals, and soon discovered they were not as wise as they thought they were. The general couldn’t tell him what courage is; the poet couldn’t define poetry. Everywhere he turned he encountered people who “do not know the things that they do not know.”

For Socrates, the worst kind of ignorance was the kind that masquerades as knowledge. Better a wide and honest ignorance than a narrow and suspect knowledge. A good business leader never pretends to know more than they do and isn’t afraid to utter the words, “I don’t know.”

Socrates asks: What questions are you avoiding? What questions are you not asking because the answers are allegedly self-evident?

These are the questions a good leader asks. Almost childlike in their simplicity, these questions often yield the most valuable answers.

Why do we have an open-design office? Because that is what every startup in Silicon Valley has. But why? You assume it leads to a more egalitarian workforce and greater productivity, but do you know that to be true?

A good leader isn’t afraid to annoy people with their “obvious” questions, just like Socrates, who so annoyed the good people of Athens that they tried and executed him.

Define your terms

Socrates was a stickler for definitions. We can’t solve a problem, he thought, if we don’t first define our terms. A good leader doesn’t tolerate fuzzy, pretentious words, but rather insists their team use plain language. Either define the jargon peppered throughout your quarterly report, or expunge it. As Einstein said some 2,000 years after Socrates, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t know it well enough.”

Talk to people

Socrates, a world-class converser, would surely disapprove of email and Slack and the sundry other methods that pass for communication in the 21st century. He was suspicious of the Internet of his age: the written word. It lies lifeless on the page and travels in only one direction: from author to reader.

Socrates preferred messy, full-throated conversation. (“Enlightened kibitzing,” the contemporary philosopher Robert Solomon calls it.) It is through the natural give-and-take of conversation that we arrive at truths.

Power down your laptop, Socrates urges, disable Slack, and talk. Maybe it can’t be in person. Fine. Pick up the old-fashioned phone. But talk. You never know what breakthroughs might emerge.

Eric Weiner is a journalist, author, and speaker. His recent book is The Socrates Express.

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