We were at a meet the parents thang this weekend for our eldest’s new school. As we arrived it was clear parents were doing ‘the dance’. Y’know, the sidestepping, manoeuvring and covert glances whilst sizing up who was worth speaking to?
I’ve got to be honest, this sort of thing brings out the child in me. How would they react for instance if I picked my nose and wiped it ostentatiously on my dress? What can I say? It is a big temptation.
Fortunately my hands were full. Foiled again!
Anyhow temptation aside we maxed out and got ourselves chatting to as many people as possible. Numbers taken, potential school runs sorted and a mums night out in the planning and all in record time so we could shimmy home to catch the early evening sun. Job done and our eldest happier with a few potential mates in the making. All good…
…but I’d had this conversation with a parent that was niggling at me. In a nutshell they were dissing the local secondary school. Apparently the police, ‘well they’re there every day’. The characters hanging around ‘dubious’. The groups ‘large and menacing.’
Truth be known, the local school is academy all star rated and lusted after by many a parent. The dubious characters? That would be our local schoolkids. The large gangs? Kids exiting en masse at the end of the day. The loitering? Gossiping. The police? Making sure parents don’t endanger the kids by parking illegally. The results? A1.
But what was really bugging me?
We’ve a massive tendency to be dualistic. To put things into black or white, right or wrong because it helps us package the world into neat boxes. It helps us make decisions and justify our choices. But there is a big danger in this type of thinking.
The dad at the school reminded me of a famous experiment: Did You Spot the Gorilla? People were asked to accurately count the number of basketball passes in a game. During the game a VERY obvious man dressed up as a gorilla got up and started beating his chest.
Guess what? No one noticed him. They were too busy completing their counting task.
This thinking and operating ensures that facts are filtered on the basis of what supports our decisions and opinions. We see what we expect to see. Now this undoubtedly will make us feel pretty darn clever because guess what? It means we can always be right. But it leads to a life led in the shadows. At work it makes you like a car driving at 60mph with a wheel missing.
Seriously that’s a car crash moment and I am all up for getting where you want to be in record time – but with all limbs attached.
So how do we spot the gorilla?
- Do you catch yourself patting yourself on the back for being right A LOT?
- Are you often annoyed by other people’s opinions?
- Are you forever saying, “Yes but…”
- A bit dismissive of change and diversity?
Do yourself a huge favour by giving yourself an honest appraisal. It’s pretty easy to persuade yourself that you’re on the button – but at work you have a much tougher audience. You’re likely to be kidding no-one but yourself and looking narrow-minded to boot.
People make different decisions based on a whole host if reasons that are not apparent unless you bother to find out. What’s right for you is not the blueprint for what is right full stop.
Lose the black and white thinking and start seeing the whole rainbow of colours out there. It makes the big picture much more exciting and interesting.
You never know, there might even be a pot of gold out there for you!