Leadership Mints Series Sampler On Deception: Lying To Ourselves

Believing is seeing – NOT the other way around.

That’s why nearly 95 percent of guns and knives in test audits still slip past diligent and highly competent airport screeners. Why?

Their otherwise collective stellar competence blinds them to something new and different and binds them to what they already know and believe–at least statistically in successfully searching 99.9999 % of 1.7 billion pieces of luggage each year.

Airport screeners cite the probabilities more than the possibilities: that bulge in a the luggage is probably a bottle of shampoo more than possibly a gun.

Airport screeners do what all humans do: we default to what we believe or have come to believe over time, notes Macolm Tidwell in his book Talking to Strangers. And sometimes we end up deceiving ourselves.

That’s when the most effective leaders guard against “talking past each other instead of talking to each other,” Tidwell observes.”One side sees the forest and no trees and the other side sees the trees and no forests.”

Then we make assumptions. We jump to a conclusion. We misinterpret body language. And the result is still another police shooting gone awry or a pedophile still at large etc.

We can get TOO comfortable in our thinking patterns. Then it becomes TOO easy to give someone or something the benefit of the doubt. That’s why the most effective leaders resist the urge to be efficient. And wrong.

Thinking like a leader means you regularly take off your blinders. You open yourself  up to more challenge, change and conflict to your beliefs, values, prejudices and perceptions.

You learn to check your assumptions at the door before stepping on the rights, roles and responsibilities of others.

You learn how to cut through the clutter in the forest of your mind. You learn how to see both the trees and the forest. You might even discover an insight: a brilliant ray of light shining INTO the forest THROUGH the trees.

But the most effective leaders realize that in time
you will begin deceiving yourself.
You will start seeing ONLY that brilliant ray of light or
what you already believe in
regardless of new information or changing conditions.

No wonder the most effective leaders regularly cut off their blinders no matter how right – and righteous – they feel. Even 99.9999 % of the time.

For more tips and techniques on guarding against deceiving yourself, please purchase a 296-page book on Amazon.com filled with examples from business, sports and politics.

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