Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational speaker who can cover the topic of intelligence and simultaneously understanding two opposing view points at your next business event. Contact us to check availability. The full transcript of the above video is included below.


Full Video Transcript:

Hi and welcome to another edition of Strategic Business Insights. Today we’re going to talk about what does it mean to be intelligent or smart, and in my opinion the highest measure of intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing views at the same time. The ability to hold two opposing views at the same time.

So let’s look at our political situation here in the United States. We have Republicans and Democrats. And the Democrats think that the Republicans are complete maniacs. They are wrong on everything. Everything. They’re wrong. They’re crazy. Meanwhile, the Republicans think exactly the same thing about the Democrats. The truth is that there are very intelligent, well-educated thought people on both sides who both love this country, America, but they have different beliefs of how this country should evolve. But are they stupid? Are they crazy? No, absolutely not.

So if you’re a Republican, can you understand the Democrat perspective? I’m not saying “agree with.” There’s a critical distinction and people confuse these all the time. They don’t want to hear the argument. They don’t want to understand the argument because they believe that understanding the argument means that they agree with the argument. That is not true. It’s not true. Those are two very different things. You can understand an argument and you can agree with it or you can disagree with it. Understanding it is entirely independent, to understand the motivation behind those people. What are they thinking? What is the rationale behind their argument?

If you’re a Democrat, I encourage you to listen to some of these pundits on the right like Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage or whoever, watch Fox News, and understand, what are these people saying? What is their argument? They’re not stupid people. They agree with different things than you do. You disagree with them, but understanding their argument, there’s value in that. That’s the highest measure of intelligence, is to be able to hold two opposing views at the same time.

And if you’re a Republican, if you’re a Tea Party Republican, go and look at the left-wing media or whatever source you want to look at and strive to understand – not agree with, strive to understand. In his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talked about “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Seek first to understand their point of view even if you disagree with it. There’s value in that. It’s the highest measure of intelligence, is to understand the viewpoint that you disagree with.

Another great example is our Western culture compared to the culture coming out of the Islamic world, the Muslim world, and in particular terrorism. We see these things on TV that seem so horrific and so incomprehensible that people would feel this way. Can you find a way to understand—not agree with but understand—their grievance, understand where they’re coming from, understand what is it that’s made them so angry that they feel like they have to lash out in the ways that they do? Not agree with. I have many videos on this, in my attempt to understand their grievance, their reality, the situation that has caused them to feel like they need to lash out in the way that they do. It doesn’t justify it, it doesn’t agree with it, it doesn’t support it, but there is value in understanding it. There’s always value in understanding it.

The people who just have their own view and have no understanding of the other point of view, that is not intelligence. That is not intelligence. To me, that is a one-sided…it’s stupidity. I mean, that’s a harsh word, but it’s true. I don’t respect people who just have one point of view and they will yell and scream and argue that one point of view and clearly have no understanding of the opposite points of view, and sadly our world is promoting these one-sided extremist viewpoints.

Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage are good examples. On the Internet, it’s the extreme voices that get heard on both sides, not just the right but on the left as well. So we don’t get these moderate views where people understand both sides. But if we’re going to make progress in this country or if our Congress is going to start to actually produce results again or we’re going to have a political dialogue that leads to progress, we need to have people who understand both points of view, people who may say, “Look, I agree with this point of view, I feel strongly in this direction, but I also understand that point of view. I understand it. I get it. I can empathize at some level.” That’s what’s going to allow us to compromise in the end and that’s where progress starts.

So embrace both sides. Try to understand the viewpoint you disagree with. You can disagree and understand it at the same time.

Thanks so much for watching this video. My name is Patrick, encouraging you as always to think bigger about your business, think bigger about your life.

Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who has spoken at business conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.