Conscious use of self, described in our previous blog, calls for learning how to be aware of and direct our beliefs, our emotions, our thoughts, and our behavior. These are the primary points of choice that allow us to consciously manage ourselves. The choices we make at those points directly impact how well we manage or create change in our personal or organizational worlds.
Unfortunately, most of us normal human beings have only begun to develop full command of these tools of self. Most of us respond automatically to many situations where our goals would be better served by greater awareness and consciousness about how we are using our selves. Our automatic or habitual reactions are based on responses that were successful in some (generally unconscious, often childhood-based) past experiences. However, when applied too broadly and unconsciously to current situations, we find that the impact of too many of our behaviors fall far from our desired results.
How we use ourselves in one situation may or may not be very effective in another, though similar, situation. Over reliance on past experience is a significant pitfall to the flexibility we need to effectively work our way through today’s world of constant change. To gain this needed flexibility a deeper understanding of the choice points is useful.
Every action we take is directed by some combination of emotions and thoughts. Those emotions and thoughts are directed by our database of beliefs. The database is constructed from conclusions from past experiences, socializations (Edie says, “We’ve been duped by society”), and ideas of our own invention. For example, imagine that I want members of a team for which I am responsible to decrease the time they spend in conflict and increase their productivity. First, I need to determine what I’m doing (my actions, my behavior) that is contributing to the way things are rather than what I want, and what I could do that would work better. To find that out, I ask my team’s members. If they get that my curiosity is genuine, they’ll tell me. Now, I can consciously choose the behaviors that work rather than those that don’t.
Part 2 to be continued next week