I am always right in my own mind, and it must be so. You are the same way. And so is everyone else.
Here’s why I’m right
We are made that way. Each and every living thing seeks to survive. We possess life. I have a life–my life. It know it as me. I spend a lot of time making sure I’m OK. So do you.
One of the things I have to be OK with is the me that I am – my identity. OK=RIGHT.
It’s important to be OK with myself. To be right. And when I’m not OK, it’s NOT OK. OK?
Emotional safety mechanism takes over
Internal conflict is NOT OK. So, my built in self-correcting mechanism seeks to find a way for me to be OK within myself. My beliefs represent the pattern of the world that makes sense to me so that I’m OK.
When anyone challenges my beliefs, they upset my world, and that’s NOT OK. It’s an attack on my identity–me.
To be INPowered2 LEAD, I have to grasp the power of this fundamental truth.
To be OK. Listen to others explain their lives.
Listen to this Spirit of Leading podcast I posted last year. Listen to Leadpodcast.
My prescription is for more intense listening and seeking to understand and respect each and every individual for who they are at the moment. Because in their mind they are right and right on.
I’ve decided to devote my time and effort primarily to helping others become more effective thinkers. When we don’t think critically and creatively for ourselves, we are at the mercy of those who can benefit from intentionally misleading us.
We humans have a great mental capacity to consciously think about, understand, and articulate what is happening to us. We can slow down to think and learn what and why something is happening. Unfortunately, we tend not to do that very often, even when we think we are.
What we do instead
We rely on our intuitive fast thinking process.
Without my having to consciously think about it, my brain takes in information through a vast network of sensory inputs: sight, sound, smells, taste, and touch. Then, it processes the information in various regions of the brain and instructs my body to release certain chemicals within me that cause me to have positive or negative feelings. I know without knowing why I know. That’s intuition.
I trust my feelings. Why? Because I have learned how the brain processes information to inform me about what is going on around me in real time. Then, after reacting to the impulses of fast thinking, I can seek to understand what and why–to validate my intuitive feelings with slower rational thinking.
An exemple of intuitive thinking.
The fight or flight system is intuitive.
I call it the built in early warning system. The fight or flight system developed for survival, and it is present in some form in all animals. In other words, we can feelthat something is good or bad for us without knowing what or why it is.
In extreme situations, the fast-acting early warning system perceives a threat (all threats must be regarded as real threats), and instructs us to take immediate defensive action: flee or fight. We react first and think later when we can slow down and figure out what happened and why.
When you encounter a snake, both you and the snake have the same experience driven by the same system. The snake rises up to strike (fight), and you run through the woods in the opposite direction screaming, on the verge of messing in your pants (flee)–or something like that. Others might kill the snake (fight back).
In less extreme situations, the early warning system kicks in and alerts you to possible danger. All your senses go into a higher state of alertness. You stop everything else until you decide whether the danger is real and immediate. You stress, but don’t panic.
It’s not enough to know that.
Fear drives much of our fast thinking. Push the right fear button and we lurch. Hucksters know the trick, and it works until someone starts asking questions. That’s when the huckster wants you to move along and let them get back to their mind game. They want you to react, not think.
You can mentally protect yourself. Look at the evidence. Hold these fast talking fear dripping barkers accountable for what they say. But be prepared for their retribution. They respond by ramping up the fear language and topping it with insults aimed at those who question them.
These fear-slinging hucksters live on the mantra THAT YOU SHOULD BE AFRAID. Bad people are lurking everywhere to take advantage of you or to hurt you or to take what’s rightfully yours. And then they tell you that they and only they have the answer and can keep you safe–believe me.
They are relying on your tendency to react to fear without thinking. They want you to get a feeling that something is wrong and that you are in danger.
Rational, slow thinking, trains you to be more in control of your emotions and to resist knee-jerk reactions. Rather than merely jumping, you go into a higher state of alertness and think through the situation so you can make better choices.
In your heart you know I’m right. Think about it.
The more you slow down to understand what and why, the more you can trust your intuition when it alerts you to act.
Partisanship is like handling fire. It can provide illumination or destruction depending on how it is managed. Right now, in America, it’s blazing out of control and threatening to consume our democracy.
But there is an escape
A fire needs three ingredients: fuel, oxygen, and heat. Eliminate any one of these, and the fire goes out. We control fires by regulating the balance of these three ingredients.
A partisan takes a side. Nothing inherently wrong with that. We need people to represent different points of view to help us balance our own thinking and to help us find solutions to difficult problems. That’s illuminating.
When out of control, the heat of passion ignites the fuel of content (words and positions) in an oxygen rich environment of “us versus them– If you aren’t with us, you’re against us–winning is all that matters.” That’s destructive.
A leader is a firefighter
Such a leader can manage the fire, but not if they are adding to the fuel or fanning the flames.
Unfortunately, our political discourse right now is fueled by the rhetoric of extremism couched in half-truths and outright lies, fueled by the passion of contempt and hatred toward the opposition, in an environment where partisans are lined up shouting, “Burn, baby, burn,” at each other.
It’s time to isolate the political pyromaniacs and deprive them of the heat and oxygen they need to destroy everything in their path.
We need INPowering leaders who can cool the passions, moderate the message from inflammatory diatribes to reasoned discourse, and regulate the environment by creating breathing space for conversation and dialogue instead of screaming across partisan divides.
These partisan movements run on the fuel of “B.S.” We must hold all sides, even our own, accountable for the truth in context of their message. If you must lie and twist the facts to make your point, then you don’t have a point.
We must dig a fire line around our passions so they don’t race out of control, igniting what would otherwise not be in jeopardy.
We must create an environment where opposing points of view can be discussed with cool heads and compassionate hearts.
True leadership rises above partisanship. It illuminates.