In the car on the way to drop the kids off this morning, we were listening to the music from ‘Matilda’, very loudly. When I say we were listening, the emphasis was definitely on us creating noise, singing/screaming/wailing/laughing – great way to start the day. My 3-year asked me to turn it down so he could ask a question….“is the man in the song good or bad?”. I gave a banal answer about him being bad and hurriedly turned it back up so we could all join back in our special family ear splitting way.
But…how dangerous is that! How dichotomous is our teaching of children. He is bad – he is good. I understand that children need simple explanations and that this incredibly complex world does need some shaving down into something simple sometimes. Children develop their ability to deal with complex information as they get older and we as a society are there to guide them appropriately or not.
What it made me think about though, is how this trait of dichotomous thinking continues so pervasively into adulthood. And how present it is in our work. She’s good, she’s bad, it’s a waste of time, she’s our best networker, he’s our best manager, she’s our worst leader, they are our best client, that is the best proposal, I can’t do that, I am terrible at…. I hear it daily and I know I see it in many many guises and I see the butterfly effect of chaos around it.
Life is not that simple. We must force ourselves to challenge our dichotomous thinking. It is one of the thinking errors that cause us wasted potential, wasted emotion and wasted time. If you hear it, call it out – be brave. If you have a dichotomous thought, challenge yourself, push yourself to collect evidence against your expectations –widen your playing field, it will help your future self, your future work. You will become more powerful if you force yourself to challenge dichotomous thinking.
As my 8 year old screamed over the loud music this morning as I turned the music back up... “Well, he’s a little bit bad, and a little bit good…. it’s complicated”.
Amy is an expert in helping teams, individuals and organisations become more powerful. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or look at http://www.dramysilver.com for more information on the "how to" of being powerful.