We have all seen where a wonderful idea such as Facebook (from creating a platform where people living far apart from each other could reconnect with each other, to becoming a major tool of misinformation at the service of dictatorships or haters) went through time or how polarization and exclusion ideas have allowed divisive leaders to gain elections by spreading hate, fake news and crystallise their citizens into a rejection of each other, which may last for long.
I was reading today, on LinkedIn, a text from 1939, written by Swami Prajnanpad, an Indian wise man and psychoanalyst who, for the French readers, has been the guru of respected people such as Arnaud Desjardins. The text was posted (in French) by Antoine Baron, a coach and consultant I have a high respect for.
Approximately translated, the text says the following:
“Rationalization shows that people start taking a stand/position on a political, religious issue, or whatever, based on their emotions, and only then go on the hunt for post-rationalisation. A discussion between two people often boils down to a conflict between two systems of rationalization adopted for emotional or personal purposes.
The fact that everyone insists on their own open mindedness is the very indication of a need to justify a particular set of very emotional beliefs.
With this in mind, a lot of unnecessary discussion could be avoided, especially on political or religious matters, since emotional positions are not susceptible to being altered by logical arguments. The fact that some people feel a strong urge to hold beliefs leads them to indulge in all kinds of excesses against those who disagree with them. The nicest, kindest person can turn into a bloodthirsty bully if their sanity is threatened by a point of view they cannot tolerate for emotional reasons.
Always keep this in mind. Cultivating your lucidity is of the utmost importance. The mind is always ready to deceive!”
When Nick McRoberts and I first heard about “Critical Thinking”, it sounded more as a set of techniques designed to help ourselves to listen as objectively and dispassionately as possible to someone else’s arguments and help them see where their point of view could be erroneous. In a sense, this is a part of what I understand in the above article. But, the most fascinating thing doesn’t consist in carefully scrutinising what the other says, but rather to carefully observe our own preconceived ideas, emotions, overreactions etc. That is, in my mind, when Critical Thinking becomes truly useful in building the new Future that the Disruption Economy may carry for us.
When Critical Thinking means “being critical and observing the way I think”, it becomes truly useful to the construction of a real dialogue where contributors sit as problem solvers and not as advocates of their cause, seeking to prove their opponent wrong.
Imagine Presidents Xi Jinping and Joe Biden adopting that attitude in the political “arena”, fans of a club amicably welcoming the opposite team and their supporters, in the sports’ world, Unions and business leaders having been trained in such an attitude in the business world, CEO’s and Boards alike working on such premises with environmental groups instead of flat denials, heads of SBU’s agreeing amongst themselves how to divide the investment resources of the organisation for its benefit, instead of fighting their own organisational corner…
I invite you to take a look at this short (8 minutes) TED talk from one of Harvard’s “star” professor, Michael Sander. Initially dedicated to the “Tyranny of Merit”, it helps to understand the position of some people who, I confess, I had difficulty to understand the motivations of. Let yourself be carried by self-critical thinking and enjoy the speech!
Enjoy your leadership Journey!