A long time ago, people believed the sun revolved around the earth and that bloodletting was an effective way to treat a variety of ailments. We now know none of those previous ‘truths’ are true.
Decisions are made based on what we know at the time. Sometimes, poor decisions are made when all the facts or factors are not known. Sometimes, the opposite is true: For example:
When we know we’re not good enough or smart enough or rich enough or poor enough, we give up before we start.
Compassion dies and conflict flourishes when we use our knowledge to judge others who have chosen to live or act differently than what we know (believe) to be right.
When we know young people are lazy and old people have lost their usefulness, we lose the opportunity to see our world from a new perspective and perhaps, in the process, gain new insight and new ideas.
Many times, what we ‘know’ is nothing more than misconceptions, current societal expectations or even other’s truths we have taken on as our own. Just because something didn’t work once, doesn’t mean it will never work again. Just because it didn’t work for someone else, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. It takes courage to put aside what we know and ask:
Is that really true?
Is there a better way?
Knowledge is fluid. Recognize, value and respect the knowledge, experience and wisdom you have, but don’t stop pushing against boundaries of that knowledge.
This is a revised version of a blog posted way back in 2013. I am working with a group of very dedicated people and as we continue to grow and improve, all of us have, at times, had to be reminded to open our minds and be willing to put aside what we know.
There are times in our lives when, in spite of all the experience we’ve gained, in spite of all the books we’ve read, in spite of all the advice we’ve asked for and received, there is no clearly obvious answer to the question “Now what?”
When sitting still, when maintaining the status quo is not an option; when the pros and cons have been written down, when the risks, benefits, potential outcomes have been analyzed and then analyzed again and there is still no clear solution, then what?
When the only obvious choice is to move, close your eyes, take a deep breath and go with the option that feels right, or perhaps, just feels less wrong. Once you’ve started to move, don’t second-guess your decision even if everyone else around you is. I don’t mean you should stubbornly refuse to alter from the course; just recognize you made a decision based on what you knew and felt at that moment.
Not making a decision is a decision. Not making a choice is a choice. Sometimes a movement in one direction is just what’s needed to clearly demonstrate movement in the other direction was the better option. So turn around. At least you moved.
If a leader isn’t careful, moving up the ladder can lead to glass bubble management.
Glass bubble management is characterized by distorted or inaccurate perceptions of employees’ day-to-day activities and challenges.
Some glass bubble managers make decisions based on the job as they knew it before they got their promotion. Unfortunately, the likelihood of the job duties, demands and expectations being unchanged is pretty low.
Some glass bubble managers have never done a particular job or filled a particular role. Without that knowledge, it is easy to underestimate the time, the physical demands or the mental processes required to fulfill the expectations associated with the job.
Effective management means getting out of the glass bubble and talking to employees. It’s not about becoming an expert on all the day to day tasks and challenges employees face. It is about recognizing lack of expertise. It may mean job shadowing in unfamiliar roles for a day or two. Most importantly, it means being willing to throw out assumptions, asking questions and keeping an open mind.
Getting out of the bubble and spending time with the people completing those daily tasks, the people interacting with customers on a regular basis, leads to better decisions and demonstrates a leaders willingness to learn by consulting with the experts. Leaders who do that enjoy a level of respect and trust from employees that glass bubble managers never will.
A Picture of an Staples, Inc. easy button (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are times in our lives when, in spite of all the experience we’ve gained, in spite of all the books we’ve read, in spite of all the advice we’ve asked for and received, there is no clearly obvious answer to the question “Now what do I do?” or “How do I respond to that?”
When sitting still, when maintaining the status quo for at least a bit longer is absolutely not an option; when the pros and cons have been written down, when the risks, benefits, potential outcomes have been analyzed and then analyzed again and there is still no clear solution, then what?
When the only obvious choice is to move, then close your eyes, take a deep breath and go with the option that feels right, or perhaps, just feels less wrong. Perhaps even harder, don’t second-guess your decision when everyone else around you is. That doesn’t mean refusing to alter from the course; it means recognizing you made a decision based on what you knew and felt at that moment.
There is no easy button and while sometimes we may wish there was, it is during the tough times we find out just how strong we really are.