What comes through in the biography and in the discussion onstage with Tedlow is how Grove made his biggest decisions: by stepping outside himself and viewing the situation coolly, at a distance.
Case in point: a fateful decision in 1985. At the time, Intel was reeling from losses in its memory chip business due to sharp competition from Japanese manufacturers. Grove had spent months wrestling with the problem, including petitioning the U.S. government to take action. Frustrated, he asked Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, “If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what do you think he would do?” Moores answer: quit making memory chips. “Why shouldnt you and I walk out the door, come back and do it ourselves?” Grove responded. So they did.
Stepping outside your own concerns and pride, finding a new solution and then reentering is tough for any of us. Its far easier to pontificate on other peoples problems than to see our own clearly. But as Grove has shown, true self-awareness can be our most valuable asset.