I seem to have had a brain seizure a few days ago. In addition to this blog on various issues about management I write a personal blog that more or less is a travelogue of both my actual travels and the odd things that wander through my brain. Imagine my amazement when I arrived here to write today’s posting and found that Fantasy Land Revisted which was a Steve’s World blog somehow was here.

Steve’s World is quite a bit more personal, humorous, random, and even profane than this more businesslike missive. The post is no longer here but is now over where it belongs.

I was going to write something about success through pursuing less but this brain seizure got me thinking about mistakes. This particular mistake came about for reasons completely beyond my understanding. Steve’s blog looks nothing like Benari blog. And yet, apparently even when I previewed it I managed to somehow miss the fact that the entire look was wrong.

My brain saw what it expected to see even though my eyes were clearly viewing something completely different.

I’ve written a few recent posts about Behaving Badly, Felonious Actions, and Truthiness among other activities that drag down both you and your organization. As I thought about my odd mistake and the way my brain was completely oblivious it occurred to me that some of this bad behavior might be the same problem with different symptoms

In my case, ultimately it was a humorous mistake causing no particular harm to anyone other than the politicians I found lacking. It also has a good result…I will be much more rigorous at checking everything more carefully before hitting that publish button. I expect that problem will not return since my brain has now been chastised and my unconscious is now on guard.

In other circumstances such mistakes have devastating consequences. As our attention span shortens and our brains are overwhelmed by more and more things streaming in continuously, I fear the problem I experienced will increase.

Our brains will experience what they expect in spite of the facts and evidence right in front of us.

Trying to observe everything and be aware of all will undoubtedly lead to increasing mistakes of increasing severity as we lose the time for our brains to notice the reality versus the expected. A scary thought for one who flies enough to be a bazillion miler.

Oddly, this takes me right to what I was going to write about before my mistake caught my attention: success through pursuing less.

Pursuing less…being focused on the essential and critical to the exclusion of the rest. Really paying attention and noticing rather than perusing and bouncing to the next glittery thing. Noticing clearly and fully. Blocking out distractions so you can really see…and notice.

I’ve noticed that I’ve become quite a bit more successful as I figured out the basic elements of the skill I bring to my clients. My writing became stronger as I focused on the need for each word and that only the words needed appeared. My speaking became clearer as my focus increased and the nice comments about it grew significantly. And yet, I still found myself seeing what I expected and so posting a wildly incompatible missive.

My learning: no matter how much you try to focus on the essential and critical to the exclusion of the rest…it isn’t enough. We all need to ensure extra eyes, additional review, thoughtful oversight, and minds accepting ongoing open and honest commentary.

Most of all, we need to guard against the risk of forgetting that we can be just as mistaken as anyone else. To the extent we block out the voices at variance with our thinking we diminish our chances for the best result…and increase our chance of seeing what we expect rather than what is.

And thus we make the biggest mistake of all: believing our hallucination is the vision seen, and desired, by all.






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  1. Our creativity can be another victim of too much input on a continuous basis. Jonah Lehrer’s book, “Imagine”, talks about creativity and how we can learn to be more creative. One lesson is that we are most creative when not overstimulated by tasks. That’s why some of our best thinking may occur when we sleep or do mundane, repetitive tasks. Our right hemisphere becomes more dominant and it has a tendency to create relationships between seemingly unrelated concepts. These can also be called insights.

    For anyone that would benefit from creativity, it becomes critical to carve out time for a walk or some other form of downtime that will let our creative side engage.

  2. Barry Meyers October 23, 2012 at 11:49 am · · Reply

    Steve, I give you credit for keeping an open mind and strive for new opportunities for improvement. Not everyone can or will do that. I think most people have experienced not seeing what’s in front of them. From the mundane, “gee, my glasses were on my head all the time”, to the ridiculous as in the current election season. Once a mindset has been created it’s virtually impossible to see beyond self imposed blinders. Facts, clearly presented and verified by 3rd parties are dismissed or ignored because they don’t agree with a particular world view. I’ve heard this from all sides whether they came from the left, the right, the center or, in some cases, (IMHO) from outer space. By the way, I’m not talking about the various candidates since I expect it from them. I’m talking about from those of us who will be selecting our next round of elected officials. People who, in effect, are saying “I’ve already made up my mind so don’t confuse me with the facts”. I long for November 7th although, I don’t really believe that, whatever the outcome, it will change anyone’s mindset. It will only set the stage for the next round. And finally, this isn’t only true in politics. I’ve seen this same “blinder” thinking in business when a manager has set goal (or agenda) and won’t let rational thought get in the way. If only medical science could come up with a proven “blinder removal” therapy. Then again, who with blinders would believe they needed it?

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