Thursday, January 30, 2014

Leadership and Self-Deception

My brother Derek gave me this book for Christmas. It's a great book that gives a practical view of the philosophical idea of self-deception. It's a good read for anyone who's hoping to improve themselves, which Derek & I happen to be freaks about. So, good gift-giving on your part, Derek. It's written by a bunch of Mormons ("feelings" and "impressions" aren't fooling anyone, dude. I know you're talking about following the spirit). It's told in a story format, and with businesses in mind, which might explain some of the quotes that follow.

"And through it all we think that all our problems would be solved if Jack wouldn't do this or if Linda wouldn't do that or if XYZ department would just straighten up of if the company would get a clue. But it's a lie. It's a lie even if Jack, Linda, XYZ department, and the company need to improve, which they surely do. Because when I'm blaming them, I'm not doing it because they need to improve; I'm blaming them because their shortcomings justify my failure to improve." p. 110

"Whereas before, he would go to the person he thought was causing the problem and demand the person fix it, the CEO began to consider how he himself might have contributed to the problem." p. 188

This reiterated a Truth I learned about back here. And when things are going wrong, I find I blame people a lot (and if I'm smart about it I don't say those things out loud, at least). In marriage, with my kids, whatever it is. It's always a good reminder that you, yourself, are the cause of all of your problems.

This book is centered around the idea of "the box," or in other words, seeing yourself as a victim and people as objects (not as people with the hopes, fears, needs, and wants that you have).

"There's a fundamental problem with asking 'What do I need to do to get out of the box?' The problem is that anything I tell you to do can be done in or out of the box." p. 142

When you are so self-centered, your checklists are just that, checklists. "Be a good neighbor" means nothing. "Go visiting teaching" bears no fruits. You are so focused on your checklist and your time crunch that the person you are trying to help is not lifted at all. I know this so well, because I am slowly learning how to come out of it. So how do you get out of a place like this? ...

"And that Tom--acting on the sense or feeling I have recovered of what I can do to help another--is the key to staying out of the box." p. 149

Act on the feelings you have to help another person immediately (make that any person you have an impression to help). Even if it's not the relationship or problem area of your life you are trying to fix, doing things for others each time you get the idea to, makes it easier the next time. And the next and the next. Then it no longer becomes a game of "I just can't seem to remember to fix this about myself. I keep putting it on my checklist and keep forgetting!" As soon as you act on one of those impressions to change, in the very moment you get the impression, it will be easier to remember next time. And I promise, if you think you only get one small impression a day in how to change your "problem area," the second you do it more will come.