The Under-Engaged Brain

Authored by: Jim Stewart, Founder DocuSend, powered by MTI.
Posted on May 06, 2019
Critical thinkers

Actual courtroom exchange between an attorney and a witness, as reported in the Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyers Journal:

  • Attorney: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
  • Witness: No.
  • Attorney: Did you check for blood pressure?
  • Witness: No.
  • Attorney: Did you check for breathing?
  • Witness: No.
  • Attorney: So then, is it possible that the patient was still alive when you started the autopsy?
  • Witness: No.
  • Attorney: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
  • Witness: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
  • Attorney: But could the patient have been alive, nevertheless?
  • Witness: It is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law somewhere.

We’ve all been there (admit it, you have too). The thinking part of our brain isn’t quite connecting with the talking part, and before we can stop the words from leaving our lips, it’s too late. And then, we are left frozen like a deer in the headlights. You want to catch the words and reel them back in, but it’s too late. They are out there forever to be scrutinized by the world, and you have to live with whatever consequences go along with them.

Even though all of us are prone to fall into these regretful verbal expressions and deeds, it gives me some comfort knowing I’m not alone when my own brain blurts out blunders before I can stop it. Not sure what I mean? Tell me these examples don’t make you smile, just a little.

  • I’m glad I’m not Brezhnev. Being a Russian leader in the Kremlin, you never know if someone’s tape recording everything you say. President Richard Nixon
  • The American people expect us to fail. Our mission is to exceed those expectations. George W. Bush in his opening speech to his cabinet
  • We have a firm commitment to NATO. We are part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are part of Europe. Dan Quayle
  • We (Republicans) understand the value of having the bondage between the parent and the child. Dan Quayle
  • The Jews and Arabs should sit down and settle their differences like good Christians. Warren Robinson Austin, US politician and diplomat
  • I did not intend for this meeting to take on a political tone. I’m just here for the drugs. Nancy Reagan replying to a question unrelated to her “Just Say No” Campaign

OK, one more for the attorneys, just in case they are starting to feel left out:

  • Attorney: What did your husband say when he woke up that morning?
  • Witness: He said, “Good morning, Cathy.”
  • Attorney: And why did this upset you?
  • Witness: My name is Susan.

So, what’s the point?

We all do it. No one is immune to this. We all have known smart people who do and say surprisingly stupid things. And sometimes it even seems like the more intelligent someone is, the more people seem to take delight in the very fact that they, too, are capable of saying or doing something truly dumb. I really think it follows along the lines of the familiar phrase, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”

As someone who has been fortunate enough to have traveled around the sun more than a few times, I sometimes feel like an old hand at this. My personal experiences tell me that most people I know who are knowledgeable, intelligent, and generally make wise decisions also make their share of dumb mistakes. What’s odd is that this seems to contradict how intelligence is traditionally appraised by the scientific community.

The advantages of being intelligent are well documented. Intelligent people are more likely to get better grades at school and be more successful at work. Still, that doesn’t calculate how their lives will turn out in terms of happiness, wellbeing, or longevity. University of Waterloo psychologist Igor Grossmann writes that most intelligence tests fail to capture our real-world decision-making capabilities and our capacity to interact well with others. This, in other words, is perhaps why “smart” people do “dumb” things.

To be able to think critically, on the other hand, has been associated with wellness and longevity. Not to be confused with intelligence, critical thinking is a collection of mental skills that allow us to think in a goal-orientated fashion and use those skills when and where appropriate. Critical thinking drives people to look forward skeptically and strive toward better ways of doing things. Critical thinkers make excellent researchers, scientists and business owners. And that is what brings me to my final thoughts as I apply all this to my little corner of the world: supporting small businesses.

DocuSend Was Invented for Engaged Brains

Look for Solutions

That’s right. It’s for critical thinkers who want solutions, ways and means of doing things better, because they know continuing to do things the same way when new and better ways exist is the equivalent of doing and saying dumb things.

Want some firsthand examples?

OK, but first we have to establish one simple fact that needs to be considered for a critical analysis:

“It takes the average small business more than 2 hours to manually print, fold, stuff, seal, apply postage to, and mail two hundred invoices or other financial documents. Cost: $340.00. DocuSend: Less than 2 minutes to upload. Cost: $162.00. Annual savings: $2,136.00.”

I certainly don’t want to give the impression that all SMB owners and operators who don’t use DocuSend are not engaged. Some SMB owners and operators simply don’t know the technology exists. Others don’t realize how simple or effective it is. And some are just too busy putting out bigger fires than mailing invoices efficiently. But there are still some who manage to fall more into the unengaged-brain category. And just so no one gets mad at me, here are a few examples of actual statements from prospective DocuSend users:

  • I only mail 100 invoices a week, so it doesn’t take much time.
  • I pay my sister-in-law to mail bills at the end of the month, and she needs the money.
  • I only stuff envelopes in my spare time!
  • We’ve always done it that way.
  • I’ve already purchased my forms and envelopes.
  • My receptionist just sits at her desk with nothing to do anyway.

My response? Let’s engage our brains with some critical thinking.

  • Spend those two or more saved hours calling your clients to see if the product or service you recently completed was OK.
  • Research you competitors’ websites for comparable services to enhance your own.
  • Conduct customer surveys to find and address your weak points and emphasize your strengths.
  • Start retention campaigns and manage them like every customer is critical.
  • Increase customer touchpoints to improve client satisfaction.
  • Use that time to acquire new customers, whether it’s making sales calls or working on your marketing plan.

Now, let’s be honest—isn’t at least one of these something you’ve thought you needed to get around to? Do any of us have as much time as we’d like for building our business?

And can any truly intelligent, critically thinking SMB owner or operator claim that stuffing envelopes for hours each month is a better use of time than any of the suggestions listed above? As I rest my case, please keep in mind the guy whose brain was in a jar and may be off practicing law somewhere.

Try the DocuSend cloud-based mailroom. It saves you time and money, and it makes you look as smart as you are.

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About the author
Small Business Owner

Jim Stewart is the founder of DocuSend, powered by MTI. As a passionate supporter of small businesses his entire career, he dedicates much of his time helping others how to be successful. Jim and his wife Barbara live in Hilton, NY and spend their free time gardening, cooking and playing frisbee with their twin border collies.

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