Our Culture Credo: Humble-Active-Genius

  • By Graeme Donaldson
  • Published 6/17/2015

Here at Able we have a framework. It is a framework that we use to improve ourselves, measure ourselves, and to guide our relationship to the work that we do. That framework is called the Humble-Active-Genius. The framework is that we as human beings have these three sections of our personality that need to be in balance. When they are in balance we can do pretty masterful things. It is our hope that every employee at Able strives to be a Humble-Active-Genius.

Ok, so what do we mean by these three terms? Genius and Active sound pretty good, but Humble? Let’s break it down:

Active:This is the part of you that gets stuff done. Your will power. Your motivation. The active part of the person says “if it doesn’t get started, it doesn’t get done.” In trying to build a business that helps small businesses we need strong, active people at Able.

Genius: This is your skilled part. It is also the part of you that learns. To be a genius doesn’t mean that you are some freaky prodigy that appears out of nowhere and changes the world. True Genius is in one’s ability to synthesize new information, learn from past mistakes and to desire new skills. We need dynamic, flexible people at Able. People that are curious and want to know lots about lots. People who want to share ideas and look at things from different perspectives.

Humble: This is your humane part. When looking at a problem the Humble part of you says “I know there is a truth here, but I don’t see it yet. I don’t know what it is, but I’m going to keep going until I do.” People hear the word humble and they think self-deprecating. This is not the true humility. True humility cares about understanding things for themselves, not in understanding things in how they benefit you. The truly humble person—the type we want at Able—is the person who wants to get to the heart of the matter. It’s not about them; it’s about the thing they are a part of.

The goal is to have all three of these parts of you working in tandem. Think of them as three head-strong horses. They all want to pull in their own direction. Your job is to take these three sections of your person and tie them together. When you can control all three parts then you can move forward.

This is also idealism on our part. It is very, very hard to have all three of these sections working together in harmony for sustained periods of time. You have most likely had those moments where you feel like you are perfectly calibrated; those moments of “being in the zone” where you were perfectly focused, perfectly in tune. You were being productive and flying through your to-do list (active.) You were doing something that interested you (genius.) And you weren’t just doing anything, you were doing something that had significance and purpose; you were discovering truths about the world and about yourself (humble.) These magic moments of “being in the zone” are what we are shooting for.

But again, we know that those perfect moments are few and far between. It has been our experience that more often than not people are stronger in two out of the three categories. Their descriptions are listed below. Try to see which one you are.

Humble-Geniuses: The Dreamers. These are individuals who are strong in thinking about a better future; what ought to be. They read a lot. They think. The strong humble wing has given them lots of insight into the human condition—the problems we have as well as the desires we all share. The genius wing has given the Dreamer insight into news ways forward, or re-appropriating old solutions to new problems. However, the underdeveloped active wing means that the Dreamers are often Day-Dreamers, either not starting their grand projects or not seeing them through. They need to build up the active wing in order to actually be effective.

Attributes of the Dreamer:

  • observant
  • visionary
  • curious
  • insightful
  • imaginative

Attributes of the Day-Dreamer:

  • withdrawn
  • unassertive
  • procrastination
  • possessive
  • eccentric
  • abstract
  • unrealistic

Humble-Actives: The Doers. These are individuals who see things through. Thorough. Precise. They follow through and take a great amount of pride in the flow. They organize. They optimize. They build. The strong active wing has given them the ability to start, navigate the storms and bring it in to the dock. The strong humble wing has given the Doers the ability to persevere, to dig deep, and to apply their grit to situations.

However, the underdeveloped genius wing means that the Doers are often Wrong-Doers. They will bust through a wall for you, but they don’t stop to think about new ways to solve the problem. They may keep moving in a direction, applying lots of effort and energy, but their lack of mastery in other disciplines may silo them from other solutions. It may also stagnate them professionally if they do not have the ability to be dynamic or transformative.

Attributes of the Doer:

  • high energy
  • strong willed
  • direct
  • supportive
  • dedicated
  • reliable
  • determined

Attributes of the Wrong-Doer:

  • mechanical
  • non-listening
  • rigid
  • forgetful
  • stubborn
  • unchanging

Active-Geniuses: The Achievers. These are individuals that see themselves as (and can be) world conquerors. Charismatic and high achievers. They are energized with activity and with accomplishments. The strong active wing gives them energy and drive. The strong genius wing leads them in innovative directions and into arenas where there is a high probability of reward.

However the underdeveloped humble wing can have them be Over-Achievers. They are in the dangerous position of slipping into arrogance due to their accomplishments and accolades. Ultimately a lifetime of an underdeveloped humble wing will set the Over-Achievers up for a fall from grace as their hubris blinds them to the reality that they are not gods.

Attributes of the Achiever:

  • efficient
  • energetic
  • dynamic
  • competent
  • empowering

Attributes of the Over-Achiever:

  • arrogant
  • inflexible
  • controlling
  • impatient
  • calculating
  • political

Hopefully as you have read through those three types one has jumped out to you: “yup, I’m totally a Humble-Genius. I need to sit down and get stuff done!” or “I am an Active-Genius. I don’t take time to stop and ask if the direction I’m going in is the right one given the context.” We hope you self-identify with one! We also hope that this framework gives you permission to seek to improve yourself to truly be a Humble-Active Genius.

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