Keeping our eyes, and ears open.
Published: December 15, 2023

I don’t know about you but I’m often struck by how insights cluster – it’s a bit like the old one about waiting for a bus for ages and then several come along at once. Funnily enough this happened to me recently and the insights clustered around the theme of old thinking being challenged and what it’s like when that happens.

The first example came when I was introducing our Behavioural Decision-making Model to a client. I was in full flow, explaining how our brains scan the environment, when he said something along the lines of; “I’m not sure whether you’re aware that the latest research has changed the way we see that process?”. Bearing in mind that I’ve spent over a decade first researching and then refining that model, you can imagine that this caught my attention. My first reaction was a fleeting feeling of being caught out; I should have known this, I shouldn’t have needed someone else to point this out to me. This quickly led to a guilty recognition that, because I’d been so focused on what I already knew, I’d forgotten to keep one eye on what I didn’t. Luckily the version of me that had turned up for that meeting was the inquisitive, intrigued, rather than the defensive and argumentative one, and my response was; “Tell me more.”. He did and then very kindly sent me an article that summarised the latest thinking and provided me first with an opportunity to redeem myself and second a hefty nudge to start shifting my attention from old to new stuff.

The second example came when I was talking to my daughter about my wake up call. Here the story is similar but the emotional reaction a little different. She told me about my son-in-law Pete who works for a company called Vivobarefoot, who specialise in “barefoot” shoes. His journey both before and after joining the company was one of uncomfortable discovery. Having been persuaded to believe that the more cushioning in a shoe the better, he gradually came to realise the damage done by this and that “barefoot” shoes, that do as little as possible to impede our feet from doing what evolution designed them to do, were actually much better for us in the long term. His, and my daughter’s, reaction to this was actually one of anger; they felt that they had been misled if not actively lied to.

In both cases the central theme is around our experience of our assumptions being challenged. The irony is that, while the immediate experience may be one of discomfort, the long term experience can, if we are willing to work through the initial pain, be potentially life changing. Easier said than done of course, because most of us try to avoid emotional discomfort if we can, but definitely worth it.

Here is the article my client shared with me. You might find it interesting too!

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