Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Box


Aside from the weather and the state of the roads, I've all but given up on watching the news on the television. I must admit that the job of the weather and traffic in Los Angeles has got to be one of the easiest to perform. The weather never varies much from the norm - hot in the summer and mild in the winter - and traffic is always bad. There is no more rush hour, the rush extends to all hours. But, I digress ...

Why have I given up on the news? If it bleeds, it leads. Sadness sells. There's a certain profit to be made in showing death, despair, and disease. People seem to delight in seeing that one man who is worse off, as if somehow it will make their lot better.

Pike, in his commentary on the 21st Degree (SJ) wrote "[s]lander and calumny were never so insolently licentious in any country as they are this day in ours." He goes on to say "[j]ournalism pries into the interior of private houses, gloats over the details of domestic tragedies of sin and shame, and deliberately invents and industriously circulates the most unmitigated and baseless falsehoods, to coin money for those who pursue it as a trade, or to effect a temporary result in the wars of faction." He then presents his charge to the reader, "[w]e need not enlarge upon these evils."

Written over 100 years ago, these words could well have been written this morning.

As leaders, do we find ourselves going along with the prevailing "wisdom?" Do we participate in this circus act? Why not just opt out?

"To be modest and unaffected with our superiors is duty; with our equals, courtesy; with our inferiors, nobleness. There is no arrogance so great as the proclaiming of other men's errors and faults, ..."

It's how we treat people that matters most. The Arbinger Institute calls this behaviour, "the box." The box can also be defined as "self-deception." What's that, you ask? Think about the problems facing society, or your company, or your family. You may think it's a problem of leadership, or with a particular group, or a lack of motivation, or a lack of teamwork. You may attribute it to stress or a problems with communication. Arbinger points out that these aren't problems to be solved. They are symptoms of a single, underlying problem.

What problem, you ask?

Acording to Arbinger, "[i]t's the problem that arises when members resist seeing that they themselves are part of the problem." The problem is self-deception.

The news media and the politicians are giving us what they think we are asking for. Ratings dictate the price of ads on the TV. The more "gossipy" the show, the higher the ratings. We cry out for others to fix problems of our own making. So, politicians enact laws to "fix" problems - only making things worse.

We are part of the problem ... so we are also part of the solution. Get out of "the box" towards your fellow man. Don't participate in the "gossip culture." Have faith that good will prevail. Be humble and courteous - and fix your own problems - and you'll be surprised how far you can go in life.

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