One of the crucial things every individual will need to overcome is the incipient trait of self-deception. Self-deception can come in many levels, but it will always lead us to act in an inconsistent way with our stated values. In a striking book called Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box, by the Arbinger Institute, the box is the frame that we place ourselves, and others, that leads us into this self-deception. This can take on many forms, but it always leads people, and organizations, into an area of dysfunctional interpersonal relations and a lack of focus on results.
Self-Deception, or The Box, will lead us to fall victim to four major flaws;
A lack of sincerity
A sense of entitlement
Seeing other people as objects (or worse impediments)
A complete sense of justification for all of our actions, good or bad
If you are attempting to practice self-mastery, you will have to gain perspective, and ultimately change these behaviors in yourself before you can completely unify your actions with your stated values. As long as this gap is large, your ultimate effectiveness will be stifled, or severely limited. We must learn to use, and balance, the tools of inquiry, reflection and advocacy to gain a more learned view of ourselves and how we relate to the others around us. (We will discuss these more in subsequent posts.)
Ultimately, being in the box will lead to a lack of proper focus on results. Most commonly, this will lead people, including leaders, to focus on, and confuse, activity rather than results. We will use our activity level to provide justification, rather than fulfillment. Through our seeing others as impediments, we fail to properly integrate, or collaborate, to achieve truly stellar, concrete results. We can allow our personal sense of entitlement to lead to a disinterest in the true purpose of what we're trying to achieve.
Any truly integrated system, whether it is a highly complex spacecraft, or whether it is the life's work of an individual, it is the results of the systems effort that truly matter. It is the objective integration of unified effort that make any system truly functional, and it is the achievement that produces that makes any system worthwhile and effective.
Let me hear from you. where have you encountered self-deception in your own life and work? When have you seen the dis-integration of a team where self-deception was part of the culture? What do you do to fight these things in your own life and work?