I had cause to recently revisit Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman’s profoundly important study of human behaviour, Thinking, Fast and Slow.
Like all the best books in this field, it speaks to the reader in all of their many different roles including potentially employee, leader, and colleague, as well as parent, son/daughter, sibling, neighbour and friend.
One of the many fascinating concepts from the book is WYSIATI (What You See Is All There Is). Kahneman’s research has found that in fast paced situations, especially when we find ourselves working tired and stressed, humans have a tendency to jump to conclusions based upon limited evidence. We are also prone not to notice that we are filtering what we see/hear based upon our own unconscious biases and assumptions. This makes us vulnerable to confirmation bias i.e. that we only see/hear what we seek.
Which brings us to now
Covid-19 continues to overload many of us with operational challenges, new ways of working and draining uncertainty. As one leader reflected to me last week, ‘I’ve never known a time in my career when there have been so many situations where I just don’t have an answer. Not only that, but so much is outside of my control.’ From my conversations with individuals over recent months, I’ve been fascinated by the way some have been able to overcome the dangers of WYSIATI i.e. the operational confusion and uncertainty to take a different view.
They’ve consciously chosen to find a few minutes each day to slow down and and put on a different set of glasses.
A set of glasses that help them to ‘see’ and take energy from the gains that have been made during this crisis within their teams and schools/organisations. Such as the teacher who chose to take huge energy from noticing the joy her pupils gained from being immersed in their learning in the classroom again. Or the leader who has ‘seen’ their own communications skills develop through focussing on active listening and paraphrasing for understanding.
I’m fascinated by the benefits that we might yield from making this swapping of glasses a habits.
- How have you grown through this period?
- What setbacks have you encountered where there is the potential for personal learning and growth? And greater clarity about how to overcome similar challenges in the future?
- Who have you learnt from in this period?
- Who has grown in your team through this period?
- What is giving energy to you and your team?
- What is draining it and how can this be minimised?
- Are you in the habit of slowing down yourself and your team down to swap glasses?
- What is the impact on you and your team of the answer above?
Swapping glasses is certainly not a denial that challenges being faced are insignificant. However, they are challenges, rather than problems. And as Peter Block, in his wonderful book, ‘Community’ writes, we all have a choice, ‘Are we a community of problems OR a community of possibilities?’
That’s a question I’m going to reflect on every day.