Falling In Love With Your Own Reflection

A Critical Doer capitalizes on opportunities to be better

 If you stare into a mirror long enough, you’ll eventually fall in love with your own reflection.

For you, that may not be a problem.  I have a face made for radio and a voice made for newspaper so that is a problem…and all kidding aside, it really is a problem for everyone.  A book I read recently helped me find the words to describe exactly why.

Leadership and the New Science

Margaret J. Wheatley wrote a book called Leadership and the New Science.  In this book, Wheatley attempts to draw lessons from the laws of physics that can be applied to organizational leadership.  Perhaps the most fascinating section was the discussion on the laws of thermodynamics as it pertains to open and closed systems (please stay with me, I promise this isn’t a physics lecture!)

An open system interacts with the environment around it.  The interaction with other systems can bring chaotic circumstances but it also brings adaptability and creates the energy that feeds the system and makes it strong.  A closed system prevents outside interaction and consumes energy until a state of equilibrium is reached.  At this point, the system is balanced but nothing is happening.

I agree with Wheatley’s conclusion that organizations operating as closed systems will also consume the available energy and reach a state where it reaches equilibrium…deeply admiring its own reflection and accomplishing nothing.

An open system where all things are challenged from outside influence may leave you uncomfortable at times, but it is exactly that process that strengthens an organization to gain a competitive edge.  To understand why, this is one time you should put the “I” in your team:

  1. Inclusion.  Ken Blanchard famously wrote “none of us is as smart as all of us.”  Inclusion increases the talent pool and creates owners that are more deeply invested in the organization’s success.  Owners in general will favor substance over style.
  2. Innovation.  A more diverse pool of talent will bring a broader spectrum of backgrounds and experiences.  Breadth of knowledge allows organizations to see problems and opportunities from more perspectives which in turn will produce innovation at a rate others can’t match.
  3. Improvement.  An inclusive culture of ownership that’s committed to innovation can only do one thing…improve.  You’ll see measurable results in the bottom line and in the morale of your people who find being a part of your organization personally fulfilling.

Whether it’s at home or work, I’ll wager there’s a situation where maintaining the status quo…admiring your own reflection…has created a closed system that’s preventing meaningful progress.  Take on the tough work of opening up the system to allow inclusion which will facilitate innovation and bring improvement at all levels.

The principles are the same whether your perspective of the organization is a family, coworkers on a project, or a CEO.  If you want to do more…and all Critical Doers do…I encourage you to move forward and be courageous as you transform your organization into an open system that can succeed for the long haul.  It’s what a Critical Doer would…do!


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Updated: March 27, 2015 — 12:27 pm

1 Comment

  1. The problem is that we are bombarded with injunctions to love ourselves. And to love others as we love ourselves.

    That in turn tends to the idea that we like those things which affirm us — that make us “feel good” or “feel valued.”

    Hence the rise of the “yes men.”

    This physics approach applies nicely to explaining why organizational leaders who favor “yes men” to the exclusion of the free thinkers really don’t lead their organizations into the future.

    In my mind, this blog post simply reinforces an idea posited earlier.

    Be willing to be convinced that you were wrong.

    Do your due diligence. Make your own mind up based on the evidence — all of it, in context — not based on an emotional response.

    Then challenge others to shoot holes in your logic. If you don’t have well thought out responses, then you should be prepared to be convinced that maybe you were wrong — or perhaps just not completely right.

    And the only way you are going to get that kind of feedback is by including others who are not mirror images of yourself.

    “If we’re all thinking exactly alike, then we’re not thinking hard enough.”

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