I continue to be in awe of the line cutting that takes place while standing on-line to buy something in a store in Mexico. First, let me say that I love Mexico and find the culture, language, and landscape remarkable. But the line cutting is a different thing altogether. There is no end to a queue, just a broken chain of customers operating on a random selection of who goes next. Go left, go right, but by all means go ahead! At first I would find myself seething inside, and in my mind I would say things like; “this is the beginning of the down fall of civilization as we know it, when common courtesy and order come crashing down at the check out counter!” I began to see myself as much more important, because ‘I was upholding this imagined foundation to thwart the advent of chaos.’ Along with my self grandeur I looked at the ‘line cutters’ as less than me, and I suffered with their every action.
I’m reminded of a book, “Leadership and Self Deception”, where in this parable lie insights about how we look at ourselves and others. The book explores how we all view and treat others as objects to help us carry out our goals (in the box) as opposed to viewing others as people, with their own hopes, dreams, and needs (out of the box). When we are in the box our ability see others as they are is limited. We become self-deceived. We inflate others’ faults and our own virtues. We exaggerate the value of things that justify our own thoughts and behaviors, and blame others.
Speaking with an executive manager the other day he told me about one of his employees who “hates her job.” The company is in reorganization and everyone is toeing the line of change, but this particular valued employee, assigned to a job she was not trained for, was ready to quit. The executive blamed the employee for not having the proper attitude and for failing at requested tasks. When asked if he had ever inquired of the employee what resources or support she could use to actually reach a level of achievement the executive drew a blank. He was so busy ‘in the box’ critiquing that he had never thought that his organization was setting this ‘valued employee’ up for failure and contributing to her negative attitude. He was seeing his employee as an object, or cog in the machinery and not as an equal who has aspirations and pride to become the very best at what she does. The executive came to the realization that he wasn’t supplying the resources and support for success and he agreed that he had failed his employee.
So whether it is standing on line in a small store in Mexico or within your own organization, be aware of how you see others from “your box”.
I highly recommend this book: Leadership and Self Deception