Nice Butt, but Can You Use Your Brain?

By Paul Joiner

Nice Butt, but Can You Use Your Brain?

So how do I delicately put this?


There’s that old saying that addresses the act of completely making up something on the spot with little or no forethought, evidence, facts, information, or planning. 


We call this the act of pulling something out of your butt!  


(Okay, did I just type butt? Yep. Apologies. Hey, I didn’t coin this saying, and I could have totally been a little more graphic with the word choice, but I kind of have to go with butt to make this work. Stay with me.) 


The world is filled with people pulling things out of their butt and passing it off as good stuff. 


(Again, uh! I am sorry for the juvenile butt humor, but the butt is vital to the concept.  However, where I can, from this point forward I will attempt to use one of the twenty-nine synonyms for butt I found online.)


We all know those who live and lead from “behind.” They’re often ones possessing a certain level of natural charm and charisma. Or, they are so highly intellectual they’re usually the smartest one in the room. Naturally gifted, many depend on their raw talent to keep their “seat” at the table. And then there are the highly experienced and tenured who rest on the laurels but do nothing more than “bum” their team out!


I don’t know about you, but after a while I am on to them. I see what they are up to. They believe what got them here is what can take them, or us, there. They are flying by the seat of their pants and expect the rest of us to be impressed with their “backside.”


No way. 


When I am served up something pulled up from “down under” I think...


Don’t hand me that! You totally just came up with this stuff! That’s okay in an unplanned, unscheduled serendipitous moment, but when I am sitting across the conference table listening to your presentation, or in a crowded auditorium to hear you speak, or at a sales meeting to hear your pitch, or paying you $100-an-hour consultant fees, or reading a report for which I paid you to write, I don’t want to hear your bottom thoughts! (Bottom is better. Right?)


I will be the first one to applaud one’s ability to quickly think on their feet, but life isn’t a long series of improvisational exercises—especially in the business world.  The real truth is, successful sustained professionalism demands a prepared pursuit of the things that matter the most. Opportunity may come knocking, and charm may be your foot in the door, but it is planning, preparedness, and presentation that will keep you inside!


Let’s pull things up from the “rear” and consider a few more body parts on the higher end of professional proficiency guaranteed to give you occupational longevity.


Use your heart! Passion and purpose dwell in the heart. If your work does not move you, it is most likely because you have taken this journey before and are bored with it. Sure, tales of what worked in the past are exciting to retell, even to re-suggest in a pinch, but those listening have heard your old stories before. Others can see you are reaching back in an effort to move the organization forward. It is obvious you have not put the time into the process to be inspired and suggest a fresh new path. Take the time to put a little heart and creative energy into a new project before you get your “can” kicked by the critics. Most people propose what they have seen or done before, rarely what is new and ingenious. Why? Ingenuity takes both thought and time and rarely comes at a moment’s notice. Remember… 


Creative genius can rarely be showcased in what you put off to the last minute.


Use your brain! Ideas are plenty. Feelings run rampant. But then there comes a time when you have to put brainpower to work. Most of us leave little time for brainwork because details are not as exhilarating as the creative vision. The most heartfelt ideas need a plan to succeed to the greatest potential. I often say planning is creativity’s wingman. It is a great luxury to consider all aspects of a good idea and how to best optimize them. Optimization can’t happen on the spot; it can only be developed through consideration. Using your brain to strategize, list pros and cons, think through processes, and outline the presentation of the idea to give it better promise of a successful outcome. Remember...


A successful idea is one that was first imagined, then planned, then executed, and then consistent; then, ultimately, it becomes successful.


Let’s be honest, there is a certain thrill about being put on the spot and coming up with amazing thoughts off the top of your head. Ideas or insights that blow everyone’s mind! In that moment you’re the hero! A star! But be warned: it’s a professional high that is addictive, yet unsustainable. At some point your giftedness falls from your brain to your “bum,” and then you’re talking in circles, out of both ends, and highly frustrating everyone. The gig is up and you’ve lost your audience and the respect as a leader or team member. 


You may be gifted at showing up with little preparation and letting it rip. But all I have to say is...


Nice butt, but can you use your brain? What comes out of your head and heart is always more impressive than the stuff you pull from your “posterior”!


Thank you, but I don’t want to hear your bottom thoughts!


-Paul Joiner

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