by Elle Cyre
Many thoughts on how writing has influenced my life.
|I struggle with leadership. I am not an aggressive, assertive or take-charge sort of person. I don't like responsibility and I'm okay following people.
I've tried getting better but I don't like leadership books. Most of the ones I've read are either boring, preachy or so geared towards managing office-workers that it is hard to apply the practices toward other management jobs.
At a leadership class, we were advised to read "Leadership and Self-Deception" by the Arbringer Institute. Of course I didn't read it, because, you know, all leadership books are the same and I really wasn't interested.
Then I happened across it at a bargain book store and I thought 'what the heck? I'll give it a try.' Best decision ever! Leadership and Self-Deception is not an average, run-of-the-mill leadership book. For starters, it is written as a novel or story with fictional characters. You make the journey into leadership through the perspective of the main character who goes on to have some very thorough, in-depth and realistic conversations with the 'leadership' people who teach him the fundamentals of self-deception.
It is a very, very good book. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone everywhere, even if you're not interested in leadership. The lessons it teaches can be applied to every facet of your life, not just work. The basic concept is how you behave towards others and whether you view them as people or as objects. Regardless of your behavior towards them (such as correcting, complimenting, punishing, praising, etc.) the two ways of seeing them makes a huge impact. Their terminology for the two perspectives is either being 'in the box' or 'out of the box' toward someone. When you are 'out of the box' you are seeing people as people. When you are 'in the box' you're seeing them as objects. How do we get 'in' the box? By betraying ourselves; by not acting on a desire to help them or be useful in some way. When we decide not to help, this self-betrayal prompts us to justify our reasons for not acting. We begin to exaggerate our own importance and demean the other person, who is now just an object to us, even a threat.
It is hard to explain but the book illustrates it beautifully. There is also a sequel to it, The Anatomy of Peace, which I am currently reading. It delves deeper into the various 'boxes' that we carry around with us, the ever-present excuses that we need to justify something about ourselves. There are four different kinds, the 'I-deserve' box, the 'better-than' box, the 'need-to-be-seen-as' one and the 'not-worthy' one. Not being a dominant personality, I don't struggle with the first two; I don't feel like I'm better or more deserving than others. But I really identify with the last two.
Again, I suggest you pick up a copy and read it. It is worth your time.