Never and Always are Deadly

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I do declare! Yes, I said that with a southern belle accent. We should be afraid to make declarations especially those using the words never and always. However, we do it every day to provide emphasis. You have to be careful because while you may not mean what you’re saying to be taken literally, because of your positional authority it often is.

My wife tells me I exaggerate all the time. It’s 150% true. 😉

And that’s what never and always are when we’re making an argument. An exaggeration: “You never read the instructions and you always install it incorrectly.”

See what I mean?

Of course, it would be a great practice to eliminate these exaggerations from our arguments. I’m a bit more concerned though with THINKING never and always. Actually convincing ourselves that we are right and being very rigid in that contention.

I’ve changed my mind in my personal life a lot. How about you?

We do this with our politics, personal preferences, where we want to live, where we want to work, who we want to hang out with, etc. As we change stages of life we often change how we think about things. I’m not sure we’re always as flexible at work.

We’ve discussed previously the difference between decisions and choices. Choices spring from decisions. Choices are easy to change. Decisions however are a bit more permanent and require more effort to change.

The enlightened leader is comfortable changing their mind. We receive so much data. Based on beliefs, history, and even something as fleeting as our mood we form an opinion. We lean a certain way on an issue.

Hopefully the concrete doesn’t set. New information comes in. You hear a diverse perspective. You think it through. You change your initial leaning. You change your mind.

This is a vulnerable thing for a leader. We promote people because they can make decisions. We criticize people who waffle. It’s viewed as a sign of weakness.

The question is, are you strong because you stick to your guns, no matter what? Or does it take more strength to change your position?

I’ve met some leaders who are comfortable changing their mind. They miss an important step though. They act like they didn’t change their mind and that this new position is what they’ve thought all along. That’s pretty dangerous.

It’s okay to change your mind. It’s also necessary though to communicate that. It really is a teaching opportunity. Why miss that opportunity?

To do this week: Keep track of how often never or always show up in your language and more importantly in your thinking. How can you use changing your mind as a teaching opportunity and catalyst for innovation?

Let me know how it’s goes. Click the “comments” box below to participate in an on-going discussion via LinkedIn.

Jim Canterucci

I don't know everything. But I want to. The focus of our firm, Transition Management Advisors, is to develop leadership capabilities to create a championship culture, generate innovation, and successfully lead the resulting changes.

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On October 16, 2018
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