The deeper we look, the more we learn
As a young man I picked up a copy of a little book by James Allen, As A Man Thinketh. I stuffed it in my backpack and finally pulled it out on the Greyhound bus heading home from college for the Thanksgiving holiday. In the glow of the overhead reading light I read this amazing little book three times during the long bus trip. To me that evening on the bus was an epiphany and gave me a fundamental principle that has guided my business consulting, and my personal life ever since.
Men do not attract what they want, but what they are. ~James Allen
The lesson is very simple: our thoughts create our reality. Not physical reality, but our psychological reality, what we believe and how we feel about ourselves, other people and the world around us. And what we believe obviously drives our behavior, which in turn influences the results we create. Sounds fairly straightforward and at a simplistic level it seems like all you have to do is “think positive thoughts” and everything will turn out wonderful.
But it doesn’t really work that way, does it? When we delve a little deeper into how the human mind works we learn that only 5% of our thoughts are conscious, while the vast majority of our thinking takes place at the subconscious level. Most people are totally unaware of the thoughts going through their mind at any given time. So trying to consciously think “positive” thoughts won’t really shift behavior if the majority of the time our subconscious thoughts are giving an entirely different message.
Every action and feeling is preceded by a thought. Thought is the genesis of our happiness, and our despair.
Thought, Culture and Business Performance:
What’s all this got to do with business performance you must be wondering? Quite a lot actually, because Corporate Culture resides in the unconscious, habitual thoughts and beliefs of employees. A few presentations on corporate values or executive speeches on vision are akin to addressing the 5% of our conscious thinking. During the presentation heads nod, a few people promise to do better, then it’s back to work and the unconscious thoughts take over. “My boss is such a jerk! Nobody cares if I have a good idea or not. I can’t wait to go on my break. Customers are so difficult, etc.”
And that’s the problem with most culture change programs They target the conscious, logical thought processes, but miss impacting the real cause of the culture; the habitual and collective unconscious thought patterns of employees. In most cases the business would be better off using the money spent on culture trainings to redecorate the employee lounge.
Corporate culture can only be changed from the “inside out”. Until all of us, executives, managers and employees accept the accountability for the current culture (it’s a product of our collective beliefs and thoughts) a shift in culture will elude us.
Organisations do not attract what they plan, but what they believe about those plans.
Written and Posted by: John R. Childress
Senior Executive Advisor on Leadership, Culture and Strategy Execution Issues,
Business Author and Advisor to CEOs
Visiting Professor, IE Business School, Madrid
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