Trapped in the box


“No matter what we’re doing on the outside, people respond primarily to how we’re feeling about them on the inside…”

My friend Raymond came to visit last month.  He heard me complaining about the challenges of working with Ghanaians and adapting to life in Ghana.  I was making the usual remarks regarding timeliness, meaningless phrases, e.g. “I’m coming”, and an overall sense that expats are to be “chopped.”  I know he thought it sounded very me vs. them.

Maybe you’re the one with the problem, Raymond basically said.

Raymond is one of the few friends that I consistently chew and digest what he says.  He suggested I read Leadership and Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute.  Apparently, this is required reading at HBS (Harvard Business School) but not my B-school.

The book walks you through a training session among a handful of senior level executives and a new high-performing executive.  The book uses a metaphor to describe how many busy people view other people and how that perspective makes you your worst enemy.

The metaphor and the message are relatively simple but the impact is far-reaching.  Even before I finished the book, I began reviewing previous experiences from years past.  I admitted that I had certain tendencies that needed immediate remedying.  To protect the innocent, I will not reveal them here.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to be more effective with their colleagues at work and with their family.  I’ve just bought two copies for my staff to read.

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