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Posts Tagged ‘awareness’

In his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the late Stephen Covey (RIP) wrote about being proactive. He pointed out that despite our prior “programming” in life we always have a choice point between stimulus and response should we choose to choose it!

To the degree that you choose not to exercise your choice point you become reactive… you let events and the world outside you determine your destiny. In effect, you surrender your personal power!

Are you a prisoner of your own thoughts?

A problem many of us face is that we are not taught that we have this choice point. There are many others, particularly those in authority, who prefer that we don’t exercise our choice point for obvious reasons. Thus, many people are unhappy because they don’t feel that they have control over their lives and, worse still, they don’t believe that they can have control over their lives. Sadly, they become a prisoner of their own thoughts. Covey refers to Viktor Frankl’s remarkable survival in a prisoner of war camp during World War 2 as an example of someone who chose to exercise his choice point.

We’re curious about what you think and first we suggest you watch this clip of Covey being interviewed as he explains this Choice Point…

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The Map is not the Territory

The phrase was coined by Alfred Korzybski in the 1930s. In other words, the map (our language) is not the thing mapped (our experience). Words are not the objects they represent. Words only indicate the structure of the experience. Words are far more limited than the experience itself and mistaking the two can lead to pain and frustration.

Source of conflict

Confusing the map with the territory is a major source of conflict in the world. Korzybski maintained that humans need to be properly trained in the use of language to prevent unnecessary conflicts and confusion that arise from confusing the ‘map’ (words) with the ‘territory’ (sense experience).

A useful way to try this on for yourself is to think of the times you’ve gone to see a movie with some friends. You leave the movie theater and your friend says: “That was a brilliant movie… I loved every minute of it” and you’re thinking “That was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen… I didn’t enjoy that at all.”

The movie is the “territory”, your and your friend’s thoughts about it and the words you use to describe it are two “maps” of the “territory”.

In organizations it is useful to appreciate the variety of “maps” or mindsets that are describing your “territory”. Another interesting thing is to look at the collection of maps (often referred to as the Culture) and review how these are referencing the territory.

A map can never be true, only more or less useful.

Appreciating difference

By accepting these first 3 Empowering Beliefs it means that you can easily begin to understand and respect difference. Often this is referred to in organizational life as diversity.

Just imagine a world where people are more tolerant of differences, learn to accept and live with them and look for and appreciate similarities. How many less conflicts would we have? What would the news headlines be like?

For the next week, begin to appreciate the richness of the territory and look, listen and feel for ways to enhance your awareness and expand your map…

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How we think affects what we pay attention to and therefore the results we create…

Notice & influence

The only thing we can really do as a human being is notice and influence where you and others are putting your attention and to make choices about that in the context of where you are now and were you want to be in the future.

In a previous post we spoke of two dominant mindsets. Whichever of these, we are operating from in any given context is reflected in how we are using language. Being aware of these conversational distinctions creates the possibility for us to have greater choice about which conversation we choose to be having and what we pay attention to. This also means we have greater choice and control over the results we are creating.

The language of the downward spiral or the fixed mindset is characterized by dichotomies with the rigid distinctions of exclusive either/or thinking. If you are not right you must be wrong, if you are not a success you must be a failure, a terrorist or not a terrorist. The polarization is a sharp one with no middle ground and gives false rigidity to our perceptions of the world.

The language of possibility, on the other hand, is characterized with options: Where are we now and where do we want to be? How can we do this? What options do we have? How can we create value?

Mindset colors

Mindset ColorsSo moment-to-moment we are taking in information through our senses and interpreting what it means to us. We interpret and create meaning automatically based on our dominant mindset in a particular context – these are our habitual patterns or ways of behaving. In this way our mindset colors how we perceive ourselves, others and the world around us, what we notice and pay attention to and therefore our results. By expanding our awareness we can influence this automatic process and change our focus, which then changes what we are aware of and how we direct our attention.

Our intention then becomes the way we create the focus and context – what we intend to do. This can be through goals, specific outcomes and what’s important to us in that context – when these combine they manifest themselves in what we call an organizing principle.

Mixed messages

Where our intention is not focused and aligned (for example where we have a number of conflicting goals or objectives) then we get inconsistent results as the organizing principle changes depending on what is most important in the moment. In a change context this is often a major cause of “mixed messages.”

Walking the talk

However, when our intention is focused and aligned, and our goals have a clear hierarchy of importance, just like Russian dolls, then the organizing principle is stable creating consistency of results. In a change context this supports what we call “congruence” or “walking the talk“.

So, as a leader, we suggest you pay attention to your intentions over the next few days and notice what you notice…

And, we’re curious to receive your comments…

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