Human beings are fascinating in that we delete, distort, and generalize our world every day. We delete what we don’t want to see, hear, feel, deal with. Perhaps you have an aging parent and you’re deleting your concern for their future—you’ll deal with it later, on the day when you’re finally ready to. Right, and then you’ll plan their estate, where and how they’ll spend their final days. When will you, really?
We also distort, or blow out of proportion, consequences, fears, feelings, events. Anyone who has witnessed a teenager’s meltdown understands distortion. A teenage response to not being asked to the prom, or being stood up for a date, or suffering some social pain could be “It’s the END OF THE WORLD! I’ll never be able to face Bob/Sue/whomever again. I can’t go back to school! That’s it. My life is over.” Then they get up the next day and move on.
Last, we generalize. We put experiences, feelings, events, assumptions, ideas into tidy little boxes. We make them the same or we paint them with the stroke of a broad brush. I’m sure you’ve said “this always happens”, “they always act that way”, or any of a series of generalizations. I know I have. This makes us feel safe, helps us feel like we understand where we fit in the world and what it all means.
Except when you’re a leader.
Then you realize that you can’t really manage people. They are deleting, distorting, generalizing all around you. At best you can guide, or lead, them. Make sense? Ok, now you’re ready for the Leadership Effectiveness Pyramid…