You have been set-up to fail as a leader.

This isn't a conspiracy of those around you. Rather, your mind works in a few unique ways that, by nature, hold you back from growing beyond your perspective. This is a cycle to maintain our safety by 1) accepting the reality we experience, 2) confirming that reality, 3) protecting threats from our reality. This cycle of reinforcing our beliefs prevent us from seeing a bigger more complex world.

The worst thing about this cycle of reinforcing your beliefs is that we often miss the real challenge we are trying to solve. Without that bigger perspective, we are in a game of wack-a-mole, rather than realizing the moles stop popping up if you unplug the machine. This week is about identifying complex adaptive challenges, and differentiating them from easy to solve technical problems. Furthermore, you will look at the emotional reactions you have that prevent you from listening to learn and work to identify the problem.

  1. We have a reality we believe to be true. We lack complexity. Known as confirmation bias our minds work to understand the world based on our past experience. Cognitively, we understand the idea of something being anecdotal (an account of, but not necessarily true or reliable understanding of the world). However, we overlook the fact the majority of what we base our reality on is our own anecdotes. Worse off, we seek to cash in on this anecdotal perspective of the world. However, we find ourselves pulling the level of the slot machines of our lives, because in the past we might have hit or thought we hit a jackpot. However, what we perceive to be a hit on a jackpot, most likely was a limited and smaller victory than we might have hit with a bigger perspective. What if, we assumed that our perspective and experience is limited? What if, we continued to seek a more complex understanding of the world and ourselves? Might we be better armed to interact with the world, to make smarter decisions, and to eventually be better capable of achieving what we want.

  2. We confirm our limited realities all the time. We regularly confirm our own bias. Today we see the echo chambers of our social media as great examples of how we as humans gravitate to information that reinforces our own beliefs. We also see how quickly we are to negate information that disagrees with those beliefs. When you are reminded of how limited your ability to perceive reality is, we realize we are reinforcing a smaller less complex view of the world. This doesn't just happen in our social media lives. This happens everyday at work, in our positions as leaders, when we perceive others to have differing beliefs than us. Imagine if we looked at every piece of new information, not as something to be confirmed or denied, but to be a new perspective or piece of information that we can use to build a bigger more complex understanding of the world.

  3. We are constantly out to protect our reality. While you might look at the above two points and think, "Yeah, that makes sense, I do that." or "I should pay more attention to my beliefs." The truth is we are hard-wired to protect our reality. As discussed in Module 1's introduction. Our deepest fears, assumptions, and limiting beliefs often engage the decision making auto-pilot of our lives. Our minds seek to keep us safe, not successful. When someone questions something you "know to be true", something that you have a great deal of certainty to, you might take it as them challenging your authority or ability to lead. Instantly you may go into defensive mode. Rather to listen to learn, you find yourself reinforcing your beliefs. This is often a thought you may have that is paired with a deep ceded emotional response. You may even feel your heart rate increase, you may sweat a little more, and may actually feel a little anxiety. Imagine if we were able to realize these feelings, and thoughts we were having. Imagine the benefit to our ability to lead and collaborate if we were able to change our perspective from protecting our understanding to seeking to learn a bigger understanding.


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