Once, when I was a student, I went to dinner with four friends. I drove. Tooling down the freeway at my customary speed (a little too fast), I suddenly realized, "Hey, I've got four people in the car with me. Maybe I better slow down." So I did.
Almost immediately, around a tight turn in the road, an accident-in-progress came into view. I slowed sharply, and threaded my way through the wrecks that were occurring all around us. Somehow we got through, and I pulled over to calm down and recover my wits. A multi-car pile-up now blocked all lanes behind us — ours was the last vehicle to get through it unscathed.
My inner wisdom was talking to me that night, saying "Slow down!" And yours talks to you, more often than you know.
Have you ever made a decision and then immediately afterwards, have you instantly known that it was a mistake? Or have you ever made a decision with inadequate information, and at the same time, have you been absolutely certain that you were doing the right thing?
Have you ever had
a strong feeling that
you might have just made
a mistake? Your Wisdom
Box was talking to youIf these things have happened to you, then you know how to contact your inner wisdom. Your "Wisdom Box," as Virginia Satir used to call it, is a source of knowledge about how the world works. We all have Wisdom Boxes. What's in your Wisdom Box is uniquely yours, and it's part of what makes you uniquely you.
Here are some typical Wisdom Box interactions:
- When you think, "I knew I shouldn't have done that," you could be remembering what your Wisdom Box told you earlier.
- When you think, "I know I shouldn't do this, but…" you could be in the midst of rejecting what your Wisdom Box is telling you.
- When you have the feeling, "I know that the right thing to do is <something>, but I'm scared (or worried, or unsure)," then you could be hearing from your Wisdom Box. You already know what you need to do — all you need is the Courage to do it.
- When you think, "I have to" or "I have no choice," you've lost touch with your Wisdom Box. There are always choices.
Get in touch with your Wisdom Box. Open it up now and then — oil the hinges of its lid, so it opens easily and smoothly. Find out what's in there already, and add things from time to time. Consult it when you're making decisions, and when it tells you to slow down, slow down. Top Next Issue
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More articles on Ethics at Work:
- When You're Scared to Tell the Truth
- In the project context, we need to know that whatever we're hearing from colleagues is the truth as
they see it. Yet, sometimes we shade the truth, or omit important details. Here's a list of some of
the advantages of telling the truth.
- The Power of Presuppositions
- Presuppositions are powerful tools for manipulating others. To defend yourself, know how they're used,
know how to detect them, and know how to respond.
- When You Aren't Supposed to Say: III
- Most of us have information that's "company confidential," or even more sensitive than that.
Sometimes people who want to know what we know try to suspend our ability to think critically. Here
are some of their techniques.
- Counterproductive Knowledge Work Behavior
- With the emergence of knowledge-oriented workplaces, counterproductive work behavior is taking on new
forms that are rare or inherently impossible in workplaces where knowledge plays a less central role.
Here are some examples.
- Appearance Antipatterns: II
- When we make decisions based on appearance we risk making errors. We create hostile work environments,
disappoint our customers, and create inefficient processes. Maintaining congruence between the appearance
and the substance of things can help.
See also Ethics at Work for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
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- The bane of meetings everywhere, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, has been digressions. But there are reasons to expect the incidence of digressions in meetings to increase now. What reasons could there be, and what can we do about digressions? Available here and by RSS on April 8.
- And on April 15: Incompetence: Traps and Snares
- Sometimes people judge as incompetent colleagues who are unprepared to carry out their responsibilities. Some of these "incompetents" are trapped or ensnared in incompetence, unable to acquire the ability to do their jobs. Available here and by RSS on April 15.
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- Bullet Points: Mastery or Madness?
Decision-makers in modern organizations commonly demand briefings in the form of bullet points or a series of series of bullet points. But this form of presentation has limited value for complex decisions. We need something more. We actually need to think. Briefers who combine the bullet-point format with a variety of persuasion techniques can mislead decision-makers, guiding them into making poor decisions. Read more about this program.
Here are some dates for this program:
- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.
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