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:
- Looking the Other Way
- Sometimes when we notice wrongdoing, and we aren't directly involved, we don't report it, and we don't
intervene. We look the other way. Typically, we do this to avoid the risks of making a report. But looking
the other way is also risky. What are the risks of looking the other way?
- Ethical Influence: II
- When we influence others as they're making tough decisions, it's easy to enter a gray area. How can
we be certain that our influence isn't manipulation? How can we influence others ethically?
- Personnel-Sensitive Risks: I
- Some risks and the plans for managing them are personnel-sensitive in the sense that disclosure can
harm the enterprise or its people. Since most risk management plans are available to a broad internal
audience, personnel-sensitive risks cannot be managed in the customary way. Why not?
- Personnel-Sensitive Risks: II
- Personnel-sensitive risks are risks that are difficult to discuss openly. Open discussion could infringe
on someone's privacy, or lead to hurt feelings, or to toxic politics or toxic conflict. If we can't
discuss them openly, how can we deal with them?
- Some Truths About Lies: IV
- Extended interviews provide multiple opportunities for detecting lies by people intent on deception.
Here's Part IV of our little collection of lie detection techniques.
See also Ethics at Work for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming December 18: The Trap of Beautiful Language
- As we assess the validity of others' statements, we risk making a characteristically human error — we confuse the beauty of their language with the reliability of its meaning. We're easily thrown off by alliteration, anaphora, epistrophe, and chiasmus. Available here and by RSS on December 18.
- And on December 25: Disjoint Awareness
- In collaborations, awareness of how our own work might interfere with the work of others is essential. Unless our awareness of others' work — and their awareness of ours — matches reality, the collaboration's objective is at risk. Available here and by RSS on December 25.
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- 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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