As numbers go, zero is pretty unassuming.
So how can it be help us add value in our everyday life?
Chris Hadfield is a now retired Canadian NASA astronaut, internet sensation and bestselling author. In his book An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for AnythingChris introduces a theory for how we can add value into any situation we find ourselves in. His system considers three levels -1, 0 and +1, with each level determining the type of impact resulting from our actions. -1 is the level where you are having a negative impact on a situation, adding unnecessary obstacles and difficulties, this level does not always occur due to an individual’s malicious agenda, but can occur due to a lack of situational understanding. At +1 you are having a positive impact on a situation, at this level you are actively adding value and will be viewed as a force for good within the situation. 0 by definition is neither positive nor negative, at this level you are neither having a positive or negative impact on the situation, you are simply observing, not creating or helping overcome any obstacles or difficulties.
Everyone wants to be a +1, right? It makes us feel good to be seen as a positive force and motivates us to do well.
Everyone wants to be a plus one, of course. But proclaiming your plus-oneness at the outset almost guarantees you’ll be perceived as a minus one, regardless of the skills you bring to the table or how you actually perform.
We must seek to understand a situation before we are able to add any sort of true value. Consider a situation where you or others have rushed in with good intentions, perhaps to resolve a dispute, but due to a lack of situational understanding have only made things worse. There is an important lesson to be learnt in stepping back and taking it all in before taking any actions.
Being a 0 isn’t easy, especially for proactive and extroverted individuals who like to take actions immediately. Below are the two steps we must follow to actively be a 0 in any situation:
1. Be passive
By keeping out of the way and acting passively you can ensure that you do not inadvertently have any negative impact on a situation before you understand it. This isn’t to say you keep distance to a point where you do not support others when asked, but ensure you do not proactively make decisions before you have developed a clear understanding.
It is your observation at level 0 that determines whether you move into being a +1, and how much value you bring at that level. Developing a thorough understanding of the situation will allow you to make much better decisions once you are in the right position. Take notes, when appropriate ask questions and soak it all in.