Shallow Hal

Lance Ideas, Integrity, Leadership Leave a Comment

Today is the release date for Terminator Genisys — which apparently is Hollywood-speak for “Yeah, it’s pretty much the same storyline as the 1984 original.” But long before “Skynet” was the cultural synonym for computer artificial intelligence run amok, a soothingly spoken apology was THE image of mankind’s fear of the rise of the Machine:

While the specter of machines achieving self-awareness marches ever closer to reality, and the debate over whether that is something to fear continues, there is a much more pressing problem: human beings who lack self-awareness. So many of us are moving through life really unaware of why we do the things we do:

  • Why am I afraid of …?
  • Why does that make me angry?
  • Why am I drawn to the same kinds of unhealthy people?
  • Why do I get so frustrated when things aren’t how I think they should be?
  • Why do I put things off and only react to crisis?
  • Why am I uncomfortable — more than just in disagreement — with discussing certain things?
  • Why am I not bothered so much by risk?
  • Why am I afraid to speak up and say what I think in the group?
  • Why am I uncomfortable being alone or in silence?

The same is true for organizations: far too many are so focused on what they do with little to no formulated thought about why they exist to do it at all. These questions are too easily dismissed as ineffective navel-gazing and idealism detached from pragmatic reality, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Because it is rarer than not, the ability to understand oneself and one’s own organization on this level is an immediate advantage. It is the stuff of game-changing success:

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