Is Your Thinking Holding You Back?

Is your win-or-lose thinking holding you back? One of the most powerful examples a leader can set is a willingness to rethink and adapt one’s opinion based on new facts. Today, we all get much of our news and information in an algorithm-defined bubble. This bubble is designed to keep our attention by reinforcing our current beliefs, opinions, and understandings. One needs only to look at our current political environment to see the perils of dogmatic adherence to one’s way of thinking.

Think Like a Scientist

In his book “Think Again” Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist, describes our natural tendency to defend our position. We attack what we disagree with and seek out people and sources that affirm what we already believe.

The author proposes another strategy, recommending that we think and act like scientists. He recommends that we objectively seek and weigh the facts. This allows us to apply effort to learn and find the best conclusion. This approach is rather unusual compared to the norm, which is trying to win the argument for what we already believe. Win/lose thinking creates conflict, damages relationships, and leads to poor decisions.

Along this theme, there’s a great TED Radio Hour podcast titled “Changing Our Minds.” This podcast takes a deeper dive into this topic. Adam Grant shares a segment on how much humans struggle with rethinking situations such as reacting to a pandemic, climate change, and other bigger issues. This can also be applied to smaller situations in our lives, such as reacting to losing an employee, struggling to hire another employee, or dealing with uncertainty with sales in our businesses.

Escalation of Commitment

Adam also explains “escalation of commitment” as a human behavior pattern. It’s common when an individual or group faces increasingly negative outcomes from a decision, action, or investment but nevertheless continues the behavior instead of altering course. He gives the example of him and his friends climbing up a mountain in Panama, believing they were on the right path, but it was taking more hours than expected. They were determined to get to the top of the mountain, no matter what. Later that day, they realize that they were using the wrong map and have summited to the top of a different mountain with no food, no water, no shelter, or cell phone coverage.

Escalation of commitment is common in the business world; we’ve seen companies like Blockbuster and Kodak fail. Leaders kept doing the same things over and over and never stopped once to rethink their strategy moving forward. Identity and who we are get wrapped up in these beliefs, and it can be hard to see other identities. Adam calls this “identity foreclosure.”

Values, Coaching, and Assessments

How can one be open to having more identities without being locked into one? Especially if they are a business owner who is too focused on one thing and believes there is only one way to do things.

Assess and know your values as a person and see the opportunity to try out different options. Work with a coach and take assessments such as Strengths Finder. We love being a resource for our clients and are here for you. Reach out and share your challenge(s), and we would be happy to help you make a shift that can transform the nature of how you show up in your business.