October 20, 2017

Too comfortable?

Executives listening to a presentationTo what extent should leaders expect to feel uncomfortable—a little of the time, a lot of the time, or somewhere in the middle?

Sometimes people in leadership positions comment that such and such made them uncomfortable. Something they experienced didn’t fit with their unconsciously held map of the world. They know this because they had an emotional reaction to what happened—their “stomach turned” so to speak, even if only a little.

But here’s the thing…

As leaders, should we welcome such experiences as broadening our map of the world? Do they show us we might have missed something or have something new to learn?

If we’re venturing into the unknown—and surely as leaders, that’s our job at least some of the time—then a bit of discomfort is to be expected, even welcomed as a sign we’re making progress. Going first is often uncomfortable.

Comfort might be a sign of danger rather than a sign of safety.

How uncomfortable is comfortable for you (or, how comfortable is uncomfortable)?

North Korean leadership – irrational or just not understood?

North Korean leadership – irrational or just not understood? And a suggested takeaway (no, not a Korean carry out (!) – an idea to use).

North Korea’s leadership is frequently referred to as “irrational”, but maybe it only seems irrational because we don’t understand its way of looking at the world – a very different viewpoint and values. Would the Chinese call the North Korean leadership irrational? Probably not. Being that bit closer, they may see how North Korea’s actions make sense in Kim Jong Il’s “map of the world”, frustrating though they may be for the Chinese, and dangerous for everyone.

At a slightly less dramatic level – only slightly, mind – somebody recently called “irrational” another party in a dispute. Same applies. Unless a person is mentally ill (perhaps Kim Jong Il is), there’s really no such thing as “irrational”. If somebody’s decisions don’t seem to make sense, it just means we don’t understand their perspective, and instead are trying to evaluate using our map.

Here’s the takeaway I suggest…

If you think you’re dealing with irrationality, accept instead you don’t understand the other’s perspective, and look for the explanation – it’ll be there. You don’t have to agree with it, just accept their right to have their own perspective. Then you’ll stand more chance of figuring out what to do to solve the problem.

And the underlying principle…

“The map is not the territory” – so said Alfred Korzybski in 1931, with echoes by NLPers since. Our model of the world is a pale shadow of the world itself. Mine is different from yours and neither are the same as the world itself. You have as much right to your model as I have to mine, and we both know much and yet also very little.