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
The wind-driven rain poured down the windows on yesterday’s rainy, November afternoon.
On a break, I looked out the window and saw the last rose of fall. With a snip of the shears …
it was inside, filling the room with its color and fragrance.
In the mist of work and life, I’m contemplating a variety of ideas that have crossed my path in the last few days. I’m still integrating them into my mental map. So for now, I’m going to point the way to them:
Writing about leadership roles in emerging systems, Peggy Holman has updated her proposed list. Read about system roles including Bridge, Artist, and Disturber. I’m considering what roles I play and have played as well as asking her question, “What roles would you add or change?”
Petsy Fink writes about her encounters at a senior citizens home in Germany. One of my questions in reflection, “How do our organizations not only honor our elders, but actively engage their wisdom in creating our future?”
Another interesting thread comes from the Interpersonal Neurobiology world. David Rock wrote about a new study that shows we human beings are on auto-pilot about half of the time. We live in the stories we tell in our brains – which is useful for “goal setting and strategizing” – and live in the experience of the moment. Being focused on the here and now makes us more flexible in our responses. The question is, “How do I increase my awareness of which mode I’m functioning in at any given time in order to be most effective?”
What is on your list of unfinished threads that you’re integrating into your map of the world?