The Power of Cross-Disciplinary Thinking

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Source: public domain

Deep expertise is vital. If you’re reading (or writing for) a publication like this one, it’s a good bet you believe that. At the same time, there is a certain kind of thinker whose work sits between or across seemingly disconnected disciplines. There is something about these cross-disciplinary types that has always attracted me, no least of which is their propensity for coming up with creative solutions to seemingly intractable problems.

Mateusz Grzesiak—or “Dr. Matt,” as he is more commonly known, is one such cross-disciplinary thinker who has decided to apply his creativity to the endeavor of optimizing personal and professional fulfillment and productivity. In addition to pursuing advanced degrees in psychology, law, and economics, he started his eclectic approach to education early, reading everything from Russian poetry to German philosophy.

Today he consults with Fortune 500 brands, writes books, and works with individuals on everything from management and sales to personal performance enhancement. I was pleased when Dr. Matt agreed to sit down with me to discuss his wide-lens approach.

Michael F. Schein: What made you decide to work with both businesses and individuals?

Dr. Matt: I know that we are both logical and emotional creatures. We cannot separate what we feel from what we think, and I see both forces in business and coaching or therapy. When I work as a consultant, I need management or marketing tools and the psychological knowledge base to understand what individuals running the company need. Only this way can I solve their professional and emotional problems that hinder the company’s development and empathize deeply with their needs.

As a therapist, I need to solve the complex mental puzzle rooted deeply in the human psyche, diagnose and describe ego constructs, and help the person logically understand and later solve the problem. This is where economics becomes useful. Both worlds are combined, and I am the bridge connecting them.

Schein: Why do you consider the ability to persuade effectively to be one of the essential components to a happy and fulfilled life?

Dr. Matt: Because we persuade everyone everywhere, so statistically, this skill is used frequently. Persuasion is a tool for us to meet our goals and it’s at the heart of interpersonal relationships. Persuasion is also connected to empathy and building trust. Parents persuade their kids to do their homework, spouses to go on trips together, employees convince their boss to give them a raise, and teachers influence their students to learn more. We need it because it is a fundamental prerequisite to leading a happy, successful life.

Schein: How does your Mixed Mental Arts model differ from the various other self-help frameworks out there?

Dr. Matt: It combines a scientific approach that requires objectivity and reliability with a practical and straightforward approach towards business and personal life. It is interdisciplinary, so it combines self-development, management, marketing, and spirituality. This model is the most up-to-date attempt to classify and describe soft skills, which we all know we need yet do not know what they are. Now, thanks to Mixed Mental Arts, we do. The model also proves we need the same set of skills to be effective in our personal and professional lives. Other models or frameworks focus only on one narrow area they describe, which makes them limited or are not properly codified, making them unreliable.

Schein: One place where you and I see the world similarly is the need to create common enemies, yet many people see this as a negative. How do you view this technique and why do you think it’s helpful?

Dr. Matt: Because the word “enemy” has a negative connotation, but in fact, the word derives from Latin inimicus, which means “unfriend.” We need unfriends because they create the most primal storytelling theme based on the fight between two opposites. If I want to quit smoking, the addiction becomes my “unfriend.” If I want to beat cancer, it is my enemy. Enemies are our problems, issues we need to deal with, people we are conflicted with—all this is not necessarily bad. It is simply the opposite. 

To get my list of great books on hype, go here.

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