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:
- Email Ethics
- Ethics is the system of right and wrong that forms the foundation of civil society. Yet, when a new
technology arrives, explicitly extending the ethical code seems necessary — no matter how civil
the society. And so it is with email.
- Virtual Termination with Real Respect
- When we have to terminate someone who works at a remote site, sometimes there's a temptation to avoid
travel — to use email, phone, fax, or something else. They're all bad ideas. Terminating people
in person is not only a gesture of respect. It's good business.
- Managing Personal Risk Management
- When we bias organizational decisions to manage our personal risks, we're sometimes acting ethically
— and sometimes not. What can we do to limit personal risk management?
- The Attributes of Political Opportunity: The Basics
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- On Repeatable Blunders
- When organizations make mistakes, they sometimes acknowledge them and learn how to avoid repeating them.
And sometimes they conceal them or even deny they happened. When they conceal mistakes or deny they
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See also Ethics at Work for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming October 5: Downscoping Under Pressure: I
- When projects overrun their budgets and/or schedules, we sometimes "downscope" to save time and money. The tactic can succeed — and fail. Three common anti-patterns involve politics, the sunk cost effect, and cognitive biases that distort estimates. Available here and by RSS on October 5.
- And on October 12: Downscoping Under Pressure: II
- We sometimes "downscope" projects to bring them back on budget and schedule when they're headed for overruns. Downscoping doesn't always work. Cognitive biases like the sunk cost effect and confirmation bias can distort decisions about how to downscope. Available here and by RSS on October 12.
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