Observing without Judgment III: The Worldview Barometer

November 5, 2018
November 5, 2018 Joe Britto

Hello and welcome to blog 3. If you’re new to this series, here’s where you can catch up on blog 1 and blog 2. And if you’re ready for blog 3, let’s jump into it.

The Worldview Barometer

So the question becomes this: how do we know if we’re limiting what’s possible by living within the comfort of our worldview?

The answer, in this case, is in the question. If it’s comfortable, we probably are.

A Practical Example

Imagine this scenario for a second: your sitting in a senior team meeting when the CEO, Chuck Chairman says he’s looking for the team’s input on your company’s strategic direction. He leans back in his brown leather chair, the same as everyone’s chair around the table. As he does the chair tilts backwards and he sets his elbows on the armrests and rests his chin on his fingers. To all the world he looks like a man about to listen. And he does, for a while.

As the conversation continues, you see Chuck looks a little uncomfortable, but he’s still listening and that can’t be a bad thing. You notice a feeling of excitement. And then you see Chuck lean forward. He’s smiling as he says it so it takes you a second to spot what’s happening. But you do spot it. How though he invited ideas he’s now telling you all why those ideas aren’t possible. Instead he tells you what he sees and he tells you why it’s the right direction for the business. Some of your colleagues fall in line. They take up Chuck’s ideas and add to them. It dissipates slowly, that feeling of excitement. And then the meeting goes the way it always goes.

What Chuck is really saying is something like this: the ideas that I heard didn’t fit with my worldview and so made me uncomfortable and as a result I steered the conversation back to what fits in my worldview.

What Chuck’s done there is understandable. And in our own ways we do the same thing. We listen to what others are saying and sometimes feel uncomfortable because what they’re saying doesn’t fit with how we see the world. And when that happens, just like Chuck we argue for our worldview.

The Barometer Rises

That uncomfortable feeling when the external world collides with our worldview is what makes Chuck push back. It’s what makes us do the same in our way. But that feeling doesn’t have to be a signal to push back. In fact that feeling is to be welcomed because we’re experiencing what I call the worldview barometer.

But what to do when we feel the uncomfortability of our worldview barometer rising?

First off, congratulate yourself for noticing. Too often when that feeling rears its head the next thing we do is defend a point of view, or tell someone else why they’re wrong.

Of course those are still options, but if we want to live a leadership mindset there’s other options too.

Using the Worldview Barometer

We could see the worldview barometer as an invitation to wait. When I say wait, I mean to take the time to live with those uncomfortable feelings. And then to realize that us feeling uncomfortable has no bearing on whether the information coming in from the world is right or wrong.

And that means we take the time to evaluate the information on the facts available to us.

It may mean the information suggests facts we have to gather, data we need to accumulate, or people we need to consult with. And only after we’ve done that do we make our decision.

If we don’t have time to do all that, then seeing our worldview barometer rise can suggest we need to bounce ideas off people who we know have different worldviews. Easy to find because they’re the people who usually disagree with us. Doing that gives us a balanced idea quickly. We can then make a decision based on the input of different worldviews.

A Leader’s Worldview

What doing this does for us is this: it allows us to make sure our decisions aren’t just expressions of our  narrow worldview; it gives validity to the ideas of others. And it means that as leaders we transcend the limits of our point of view to arrive at actions that grow our business while growing the people in our business.

And couldn’t that be a leader’s worldview?


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