A-Head for Success

T 0345 130 0854

The Dangers When Motivation Blurs Perspective

Denial or TruthI usually write about performance, productivity and stress-resilience.  This article will cover the thorny subject of Denial which is a cousin to each of those.

The political turmoil at the moment has been cursed with so many twists and turns, accusations, affirmations and resignations that is has been hard to keep up.  At a time of deep unrest, what has been needed is an honest and unbiased assessment of the situation so that stability and a clear way forward can be restored.

This is true in business too – and in our personal lives for that matter.  In an excellent TED Talk, Julia Galef introduced the subject of Motivated Reasoning which she labels The Soldier Mindset.  In this, an individual will be motivated to defend their ideas, or attack the ideas of opponents.  Why shouldn’t we do that?  Because in blindly doing so, we don’t get an accurate picture of reality, we so doggedly stick to our position, that may take us down a path that results in regret, failure, or even disaster.

As an example, last week The Chilcot Enquiry concluded that the Iraq invasion was illegal, resulting in many needless deaths.   Tony Blair insisted he was not at fault, despite all the evidence to the contrary.  It would seem that his motivation was to forge strong links with the US, saying “I will be with you whatever.”  And so, he was.

Professor of Criminology, David Wilson, has called him ‘deluded’ and much worse*.  Whatever your thoughts on the subject of politics, the inability to see things in their true perspective can have devastating consequences.  Denial is a coping strategy to block out the uncomfortable truth.  In the case of Blair, he downplayed his actions to make them palatable to the wider world.  I think we all have a tendency to do that, but the consequences can be detrimental.

So what is the solution?  Balancing the motivated reasoning (or Soldier Mindset) which only seeks to support your current view, with a reality mindset (which Julia calls The Scout Mindset).  This requires an ability to see things as they are, no matter how inconvenient it is, in a balanced way.  Sound judgement requires openness, humility, an ability to see the bigger picture and a strong sense of self, rather than ego.  It can be argued that only the strong can say they were wrong, don’t you think?

So what has all this got to do with performance, productivity and stress-resilience?  Denial is a coping strategy for stress, usually a dysfunctional one as this article explains;  When we don’t see things as they truly are, performance (the quality of your work) will, sooner or later, be affected;  When we make decisions based on non-truths, productivity (how much work you do) will be affected because you will be spending time fighting fires which didn’t need to happen.

For more information on this subject, read my blogs about decision making and judgement

If you want more functional coping strategies for whatever stressful situation you find yourself in, why not book a session?  For a no obligation chat about this, call me, Tricia Woolfrey, on 0845 130 0854.



*If you are interested to read the article, here it is.