A note from Val: This blog post is in no way intended to be a political statement. These ideas would be applicable whether there was an election coming up or not.
We have a responsibility as leaders. Instead of moving towards divisiveness, we need to be agents of hope, options, and a brighter tomorrow. Sometimes this requires us to shift the narrative.
As I’ve been coaching groups of leaders about leading during a global pandemic, a common theme has been the abundance of binary thinking. It seems as if our whole culture has jumped into this narrative of being in this camp or that camp. It’s invaded team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, really every conversation we have, not to mention public forums like social media and the news.
In coaching, we call this either/or thinking. It locks us into having only two choices when in reality there are always multiple ways to look at things, many of which we can’t even imagine because it’s out of the realm of our own experience. As the Talmud says, “We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.”
When our thinking is limited to only two possibilities, conversations tend to heat up with an emotional charge. It’s almost as if we cease thinking, and can only react. We can do this, or we can do that, and here’s why this is right and that is wrong.
If you picture a pendulum, it would be swinging all the way to one side or the other, when what we really want is to be settled somewhere in between. Yet we keep gravitating to those extremes.
Right now, the world is experiencing a common global pandemic; we’ve all been impacted. We have far more in common than what separates us. Yet we still quickly go to this binary conversation of this versus that.
One way to shift that framework is to realize yes, we have very different views, and then start talking about the people, how real people are being impacted. It’s about taking a step back, instead of jumping right in to confront our very diverse opinions. Instead of reacting, we can step back and catch our breath.
We’re all getting caught on this hamster wheel. In order to shift the narrative, the leader needs to not only address their own binary thinking but help the whole team get off the wheel and look at things from a broader perspective.