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Reality or not


I’ve had several discussions over the past few days about our maps of the world or in Senge’s term: mental models. We each have ways of living in the world that allow us to navigate successfully. Red lights mean “Stop.” A classroom should be arranged in rows of tables with chairs facing forward.

The world we live in is the one that we construct. Not everyone uses the same construction. You may construct travel plans by getting recommendations from friends. While someone else may search for online trip reviews to seek out the best travel options.

We each use our own models and maps to deconstruct and reconstruct our world all the time. At work and home we constantly adjust to changing relationships and environments. We eliminate what isn’t working and construct an “alternative” reality.

The challenge for each of us is not that we construct reality using mental maps and models. The challenge is to be aware of them. Here are some questions to jumpstart making your models visible:

  • What do I assume when I interact with people? Am I on guard or assuming they want the best for the situation?
  • What are the assumptions behind my business strategy for this year? Am I operating from a sense of abundant possibility or scarcity?
  • How can I be more aware of my assumptions about how things work?

In case you’re wondering about the “reality” of the photo – it was taken on the Interstate by a passenger in a moving car, holding the shutter open to capture the lights of oncoming traffic – zoom.

Sailing with Dragons
Turning off the autopilot

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Chy Miller #

    Thanks for posting this Kathleen. I have always appreciated my own understanding of “mental contracts” and how they are key to how my day goes or doesn’t go.

    We all awake each day and quickly construct, consciously or subconsciously, what our mental map(s) for the day look like. Once we can clearly vision the map, we sign the mental contract.

    I appreciate your post because it reminds me that so many times my frustrations or my shortcomings as a program director could be avoided or lessened by just asking myself “am I’m binding myself and the issue to a senseless or misguided or insufficient mental contract?”

    A lot of the time the answer is most likely yes. I love days when I can see those moments and feel better about our work and feel as if productivity has been maximized.

    Again, thanks for sharing.

    January 24, 2011
    • friesengroup #

      Thanks for sharing a personal and excellent example of how “mental contracts” impact our lives. And yes, I too love the times when I can identify my contracts and constructs in the moment – and make adjustments to improve.
      Kathleen

      January 24, 2011
  2. Kathleen:

    Thanks for this posting. I always try to be approach each day with a positive attitude. What this posting shared with me is that when I am aware my need for “construction” or “de-construction” can both be positive events. Just because there is a need to change doesn’t mean it has to be sad, or filled with anger. It can be a time to honor what I thought was needed in the past, and to embrace and be engaged with a new approach for the future. I like how this triggered the connection of the two for me.

    Have a wonderful day.

    With a smile,
    Debbie

    January 25, 2011
    • friesengroup #

      Debbie,
      Your observation that we can use an appreciative frame/attitude for the way we approach change and life events is an important one. We get to choose! Thank you for adding to the conversation.
      Kathleen

      January 25, 2011

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