“I’ve been on autopilot way too long!” – Ken Campbell
Many years ago when I was a junior consultant I took my first business trip. I was excited and after a short flight rented a car and found my way to the client’s office building. Well, I did get a little lost on the way (no hand-held GPS devices in those days) and arrived a few minutes late. My mind was racing a thousand miles an hour as I turned off the engine and . . . I couldn’t get the key out of the ignition. I tugged and tugged, turned the car on and off again, but still couldn’t get the !@*%! key out.
Not to be later than I already was for my meeting, I took a sheet of blank paper from my notebook and drapped it over the steering column to hide the key in the ignition, left the car unlocked and went to my meeting. Needless to say I was still pretty worked up, about two things now, being late and not being able to get the key out.
When I came back to my rental car after the meeting I was in a much calmer frame of mind and could now study the situation of the “stuck” key. It wasn’t long before I noticed a small button on the underside of the steering column, pressed it and the key came out effortlessly. You see, my car was a much older model and I’d never before driven a car with this new key release mechanism.
Why couldn’t I figure this out earlier? Because my rational and logical mind was distracted with the emotional upset of being late for my meeting. I was not thinking straight and I was definitely on “autopilot”; treating this new rental car like my own car and relying on habit to solve the problem.
The human mind has an incredible capacity to solve new problems and sort things out, but not when it is on autopilot!
All we get on autopilot is what we have learned in the past, what has been programmed in – we don’t have access to rational thinking, but default to past habits and old beliefs. And old beliefs and habits don’t always solve today’s new problems. And they certainly aren’t very useful when dealing with people issues. People issues cannot be solved with a past formula – each is unique.
Next time you are dealing with people issues in your organization you might want to switch off your “autopilot” and focus on the person and the problem with a clear mind.
Tight Lines . . .
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