Leadership Distinction #21: History

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Leadership Distinction #21: History

Your history lives in memory. Generate tomorrow’s memorable history — today

Leaders typically have better than ordinary powers of observation. It’s impossible to attain a leadership position in an organization without having effectively interpreted how your life’s experience has brought you to this point. One of your observational powers is actually your memory; you continuously cross-reference it as you take in new information with your senses. It’s the place where your own interpreted history is stored.

In addition to your senses and your memory you have what each of us is less equipped to think about with objectivity, and that is the mental model with which we select and frame and process what we observe. Your personal history – your personally interpreted history — is an indexical record of this very subjective dynamic.

It is said that if we ignore the lessons of history we are doomed to repeat past unfortunate outcomes. Most of us would have to disclose that our record of applying this bigger lesson is somewhat short of a perfect score. In this way we’re members of a very large club, but that shouldn’t comfort us.

It shouldn’t comfort us because the mental model we often unknowingly deploy is in part the product of our history and also in part the generator of our history. Along with our emotional and physical states, and our use of language, we transmit traces of our history with every one of our interactions.

Reflecting on our individual history, and being particularly mindful of any patterns within it that indicate where and when we might lapse into a less conscious observational habit, will go a long way in propelling our being a generator of a supportive history, and not a victim of a remorseful one, as we move forward.

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Episode 21