Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Self Deception - Azara Feroz Sayed

The name of the book is 'Leadership and Self Deception' as this material was an outcome of consulting assignment by ARBINGER for a client that had been languishing in its performance. As is mentioned in the last chapter (chapter 24 in book, not incorporated in the online version), A family, a company - both are organizations of people. The thing that divides fathers from sons, husbands from wives, neighbours from neighbours - the same thing divides co-workers from co-workers as well. Companies fail for the same reason families do. I found the material is not limited to leadership.

The book is Phase-I of ARBINGER's Three Phase Results System - would have to find more on the other phases too.

Refer for the online version of the book. The URLs on the right open up below the image of the book i.e. you would have to scroll down.

I found the ideas in the book interesting about the “box”, our state of mind, where we cease to really view other humans as humans with needs as legitimate and important as ours but instead we see them as objects. Objects worthy of blame. Objects that cause problems for us. When we are in the box, our view about reality is distorted - we see neither ourselves nor others clearly. We are blind to the truth about ourselves and others. We are blind to our own motivations. We are self-decieved. And that creates all kinds of trouble for people around us

The small, engaging book follows the style of 'One Minute Manager' where a new manager is introduced to the miracle (and most common) of self deception (or self betrayal) to help focus on results. How self deception is the root of all interpersonal problems. When we are in self deception mode, we are "in-the-box" and not "out-of-the-box". Staying "out-of-the-box" is the key to a producing results.

When we fail to do something for other person, that we know we should do, we betray ourselves and begin to resist the other person; to justify that resistance, we begin to blame. When we blame, we begin to see others in a way to justify that blame, and then we are "in the box.". When "in the box," we cease to see reality (we deceive ourselves) and instead create negative interactions with others, shifting focus from attaining mutually beneficial results to blaming one another for failing to achieve results.

"Self-betrayal" - The below ideas are explained with examples in the book

1. An act contrary to what I feel I should do for another is called an act of "self-betrayal."
2. When I betray myself, I begin to see the world in a way that justifies my self-betrayal.
3. When I see a self-justifying world, my view of reality becomes distorted.
4. So—when I betray myself, I enter the box.
5. Over time, certain boxes become characteristic of me, and I carry them with me.
6. By being in the box, I provoke others to be in the box.
7. In the box, we invite mutual mistreatment and obtain mutual justification. We collude in giving each other reason to stay in the box.

Some of the problems associated with being in-the-box
1. Lack of commitment, engagement, motivation
2. Troublemaking
3. Conflict
4. Stress
5. Poor Teamwork
6. Back bitting/ bad attitudes
7. Misalignment
8. Lack of trust
9. Lack of accountability
10. Communication problems

What doesn't work while we are in-the-box
1. Trying to change others
2. Doing our best to "cope" with others
3. Leaving - we carry our box, our problems with us
4. Communicating
5. Implementing new skills or techniques
6. Changing our behaviour

The only way "out-of-the-box", is to see and honor the "otherness" in people - to stop resisting the other person - to do the things we believe we should do for that person. As blaming doesn't helps the other person to improve. It doesn't helps to correct whatever fault we perceive. On the contrary it will encourage the exact behavior we find deplorable.

Being out-of-box, “sharpens vision, reduces feelings of conflict, enlivens the desire for teamwork, redoubles accountability, magnifiies the capcity to achieve results, and deepens satisfaction and happiness.”

The examples in the book are easy to relate and can be applied at home and work. I hope you will find them interesting too!

Apart from having the diagrams in the book handy, to recaptuale the ideas over a period of time, my notes captured while reading the book
- Let people know by our actions that we are interested in them and not in their opinion about us (Leon and Gabe example)
- Our level of interest (treating them as object) in a person is revealed through our voice, gaze, posture, hugs, kisses etc. The hypocrisy of practised active listening etc will be always detected adding to the resentment. (Nancy and Bud's apology)
- People skills are never primary - they can help reduce misunderstandings and clumisness (Lou passing on Bud's assignment to someone else). No matter, what we are doing on the outside, people respond primarily to how we're feeling about them on the inside. How we feel about them depends on whether we are "in" or "out" of the box concerning them.
- When in-the-box, we experience ourselves as a person among objects. When out-of-the- box, we experience ourselves as a person among people (Bud occupying the next seat on the flight)
- The success of Zagrun is a culture where people are invited to see others as people. The importance of smart, skilled people in the company or working long and hard hours or other things are not minimized. It is just that smart become smarter, skilled people get more skillful, hard working people work harder when they are treated as people and not objects
- We can engage in "hard" (correcting people) or "soft" behaviour, what is important is the way we do it i.e. treating the other person as a person and not an object
- We can be "hard" and invite productivity and commitment or we can be hard and invite resistance and ill-will. The choice is not to be hard or not. The choice is to be in the box or not
- We are still sometimes in-the-box and probably always will be to some extent, our success comes because of the times and ways we have been out-of-the-box. The point is not to be perfect. To get better in systematic concrete ways that improves the company's bottomline.
- When we are in-the-box, we do things not to help other people in their situations but because they are making it difficult for us - we need an object to blame (making them feel blame worthy) for our situation, which adds to the problem. When we are in-the-box, we need people to cause trouble for us to justify our blame on them for our difficult situation - we need problems to push the blame on. We help create problems we blame the other for. It is like I will mistreat you so that you can blame your bad behaviour on me and if you mistreat me I will blame mt bad behaviour on you. Provide each other with perfect mutual provocation and justification - two or more people in the box towards each other - mutually betraying themselves - Collusion. (Bryan and Kate over staying late).
- Out-of-the-box we get no mileage whatsoever in being run over. In-the-box, we get our justification. We get our proof that the person running over me is just as bad as I have been accusing him or her of being
- In-the-box we are focussed on ourselves. When we are out-of-the-box we are focussed on results. Those in-the-box may seem to be focussed on results but they would be valuing the results primarily for the purpose of creating or sustaining their own stellar reputations. This is because it is easy to see that they don't feel other's results as importaant as thier own results. They are not as happy when other people in the organization succeed. They will run over people trying to get their own results.
- In-the-box, we withhold information which gives others reason to do the same. We try to control others, which provokes the very resistance, that we feel the need to control all the more. We blame others for dragging their feet and in so doing give them reason to feel justified in dragging their feet all the more. We are blamming others not to improve them but to use their short commings to justify my failure to improve
- One person in an organization, by being in the box and failing to focus on results, provokes coworkers to fail to focus on results as well. Collusopn spreads far and wide and the end result is coworkers against coworkers, workgroups against workgroups, department against department. People who came to help an organization succeed actually end up delighting in each other's failures and resenting each other's successes. The people who carry the germs are not aware that they are carrying it.
- All the disparate problems we call "people problems" have the same cause "self betrayal"
- A leader who felt he was so "enlightened" that he needed to see workers negatively in order to prove his enlightment, a leader so driven to be the best that he made sure no one else could be as good as he was - with that provoking collusions with everyone in the organization - a walking excuse factory - anyone who needed justification for their self betrayals would use him. (lou before he went to Arizona)
- When in collusion, the more responsibilities we take for team's performance, the more mistrusted the team feels. The team will resist by giving up creativity etc which provides all the more reason to be convinced about incomptence in the organization and we implement more careful instructions, policies and procedures. The team takes this as further more disrespect for them and resist all the more - round and round. Collusion is everywhere. Each of them providing each other with mutual justification for staying there. One person carries the disease and blames everyone else for the infection.
- The desire to be out-of-box gets you out-of-box. The desire to honor people for their 'otherness' we get out-of-the-box. The moment we see a person with needs, hopes, worries as real as our - we are out-of-the-box.
- When we are out-of-the-box, honor the feeling of being out-of-box rather than betraying the feeling, is the key to staying out-of-box
- We are not in-the-box to solve other's problems
- The box itself is deeper than behavior, it is the state of mind, so getting out of the box is not about merely changing behaviour
- It is critical that we honor what our out-of-box sensibility tells us we should do for people. However - this doesn't necessarily mean we end up doing everything we feel would be ideal. For we have out own responsibilities and needs that require attention, and it maybe that we can't help others as much or as soon as we wish we could. But we do the best we can under the circumstances. We feel far more over-whelmed, over-obligated, over-burdened when we are in-the-box than when we are out-of-the-box
- Recognizing other's boxes and not blaming them for being in-the-box is a out-of-the-box behaviour. We can ease rather than exacerbate the situation
- People are coerced (force, threat) to follow a in-the-box-leader while people choose to follow a out-of-the-box leader


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