Welcome to Leadership from the Balcony.
My name is Shawn Grismer with my co-host Justin Dorroh. And each week we bring you a new leadership concept to inspire your growth and effectiveness as a leader in every area of your life.
Curiosity, it challenges quick conclusions. It challenges what do we base our conclusions on? In so many areas of life, we live with so much limitation and such a lack of awareness of how limited we are.
On today's episode, we're talking about complexity of mind and processing the complexity around you. Your brain isn't just a repository of information, but a fundamentally unique processor that makes sense of that information. Thanks for joining us on the Balcony. We hope you enjoy peering over the railing to gain an expanded leadership perspective.
I did find this, what was the name of that podcast you sent this weekend? It's very difficult to say.
Yeah, that's it. Yeah. But in that podcast, the woman that was being interviewed, she unpacks significant events in history that have created disruption as she's kind of talking about the need for needing to navigate complexity. Electricity being commercialized towards the end of the 1800s into automobiles being commercialized. Then in the late 70s, computers coming on the scene, smartphones hitting the world in the early 2000s. Facebook, that's funny. Facebook's 2004, that's the year I graduated college. And I remember it was several years after I graduated college so that I heard of it. I was like, Facebook, what is this? No problems. I got my first email my senior year in college. Yeah, exactly. I got my first cell phone during my freshman year in college. The iPhone being launched, I can remember that, the place I was working at the time, seeing that for the first time. Which is 2007. It's still freaky to think, man, it wasn't that long. That's what, 14, 15 years ago the iPhone was launched. And it's just accelerated everything. Everything. Everything's accessible from the comfort of your own phone. That's right. So just recognizing, I mean, the pandemic has been a huge disruptive event. The threat of global conflict is another event that can create disruption. So, all of these events create a need to make sense of a brand new world, potentially, depending on what has taken place. That level of disruption and the number of moving parts happening in our world that we have to pay attention to is really what this whole concept of complexity of mind is attached to. It's the ability to make sense at an increasing rate of change, and the rate of that change and the number of moving parts of that change, how do you learn to navigate that? And it actually takes psychological development. I love thinking back over 150 years ago. What was lifelike for people back then? And the complexities in most people, it was an agrarian culture. There were no cars. People rode horses to get from farther point A to B. If it was shorter, they walked. They would get up in the morning, they'd work the field. It was around family. It was around your location. They didn't get beyond that. You may have had a hundred people in your relational network. You did not have, oh wow, I just got a million followers on whatever social media. Just the complexity, not of the environments that you are attached to, but of the world, let alone the environments you're attached to. And I think that's the complexity of mind issue, like you were talking about, all of these disruptive events, they're global. They affect everyone. But now you take a leader that starts a business and when they are the only one in the business or it's them and one other person, it's not very complex. It's not complex, that's right. And in starting that business, there may be, it may feel complex, but it doesn't feel near as complex as having five employees and going from having a hundred thousand dollars of revenue to having a million dollars and then having five million dollars and having 10 clients versus 150 clients. The complexities that come with that level of growth, it's why somebody wrote a book called, What Got You Here Won't Get You There. And it s that same mentality of the complexities will only continue to increase as you build. And then these days you have the exponential growth of complexity in the world around you if you're not growing as well. If your ability to handle mentally that complexity, if your mind can't handle that level of complexity, you're sunk. Right. And so much of it really does require humility to be able to consider a point of view that maybe is not native to yourself. That's right.
You know, there's a framework that's really been helpful in our journey. It came out of a book that we read called An Everyone Culture, written by Keegan and Leahy. And they give this little graphic called Complexity of Mind. And there's multiple stages of it. I know there's even some preceding stages before this specific adult development model. But there's kind of three stages that they walk you through. The first one is called the Socialized Mind. And correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding with the socialized mind is it really is I find my perspective locked in the group's perspective. And therefore, what the group thinks, is where I derive meaning and sensemaking. Yes. Yes. And authorities. People that you view as either an authority in your life or an authority or expert on subject matter, that is one of the voices you allow to speak into your perspective. But then like you said, it's external. How I define success is how the populace around me define success. If it means to drive this kind of car, well, then I know if I drive that kind of car, that means success. If it means to have this type of job, then that's what success means. And your definitions of your perspective are set by experts, authorities, and whatever group you allow outside of you to define them for you. Right. And so from that socialized mind or perspective, the next kind of stage of development is called self-authoring, the self-authoring mind. And this one, again, as I understand it, it's now I have a perspective that is generated from within, not necessarily pulled from those around me. And so therefore, classic leadership terms, I might have a vision for where I want to take the team or the organization or my family, fill in the blank. And it's you really are connected to that sense of vision, purpose, a perspective that comes from inside. Is that a fair way to say that? Yes, for sure. And the great thing about self-authored is it supersedes the individual situations. So, like you said, vision always supersedes every current decision because you're always living after what is greater than just this decision. Yeah, there's a purpose. I know when my wife and I started, when you and I started reading a lot about this, I realized there are a lot of areas in our life I don't have a vision for them. And it was very hard to then say, how do we create that out of ourselves? You know, if we don't know where we're going, how are we ever going to get there? So, everything that we were using is just what's voiced around us because we didn't take the time to say, no, no, no, we actually want to set a definition that is unique for us and where we're going, which is much more in that self-authored mind. Doesn't mean you're in that self-authored stage, like you talked about, the psychological development, but it sure does help to break you free from everybody else s perspective into do I have my own perspective? And then from there, so we go socialized mind to the self-authored mind to this self-transforming mind and we read a series of books, I think it was in, was it in Scaling Leadership that they talked about this or was it in An Everyone Culture or both? It's in both, Scaling Leadership definitely leans into this more.
Okay. The thing I recall is I just thought they said it so well. They said it's self-transforming is really this, you do have a point of view, you have a perspective. However, you are no longer fused to your perspectives, which means it's now like a lens that you can look through, but you can also look at and you can recognize, hey, I have a point of view, I have a frame of reference, but I can also take on someone else's point of view. That may or may not mean that I agree with them, but I can see through their lens to better understand where they're coming from. And the way they articulated was it's having this pretty well-established point of view, but there's enough room that a piece of golden chaff can make it through your filter, which could transform your whole perspective in the process. And so I think, you know, you read these types of books and very quickly you think, oh, I want to see myself in the top level or whatever it might be. And I think through our experience, what we've recognized is this stuff's painful to change. Yes. Because... Very much so. You don't realize your gaps, your limitations, your knee-jerk responses. And the more you get some definitions and things to kind of work with and view yourself through and you really start to embrace feedback. All of a sudden, you're like, ooh, I'm not as developed as I thought I was. And it can be a little embarrassing. If I can refer back to one of the other episodes we had where we talked about having perspectives that you are subjected to versus the ability to actually define them and look at them where they're now objective and you're not just subjected to them, but you can objectively look at them. Every one of these stages requires your ability to do that. And it's not easy to do, like you said. To be able to do the work to realize how I define something is based on what's outside of me. And can I take that perspective and actually set it in front of me with an open hand and say, this isn't the only perspective. There's actually something that I want to see happen, not just what I think I'm obligated to by everybody else's perspective. You have to be able to go through that open-handed look at those perspectives together and now be able to not be adhered to one. But can I take my self-authored perspective and look at your self-authored perspective and say, let's learn from both of them? Can I hold both of them in an objective way, not just something that, what's the word you used, cohered to or adhered to? And it's not just something that's fused with me, but it's something I can actually say, you know what, it's important and I can look at it, but it makes what Justin sees and what he's going for equally as important. So how do we hold them both in front of us and be able to evaluate them together and say what's even a greater good that we can come to from both of us and not just what I want to come to on my own? Right. And you know, the question is why is stuff like this so important? It can sound a bit academic and technical and what's its real day to day usability? And I would say honestly, the ability to grow in self-awareness, others awareness, situational awareness, systems awareness, your radar screen just gets much more defined, and you more quickly recognize patterns that could lead to great breakthroughs in the business and patterns that could lead you down a path of implosion. Yes, for sure.
I think I was mentioning earlier the concept of curiosity. I think to me, curiosity is a descriptor of at least self-transforming thinking. Because you're recognizing maybe my initial gut response to hearing some information is that's a bad idea. Curiosity goes, well, why is that a bad idea? Do I know enough about that idea to just intuitively say it's wrong? Now maybe on a, I would actually say probably a small subset of categories, maybe, depending on how small they are. But I think realistically, like a great example would be, let's say you're talking about a functional area of the business. So, for us in this season, we're talking a lot about marketing and how do we grow in this. It's not something that is native to any of us in terms of the functional discipline that we came up through. That's for sure. And so, what can be so easy to do is quickly dismiss ideas because they don't square with the vision that you have. And you may close yourself off to something that if maybe better defined, more clear, everyone's on the same page, what are we actually talking about? And with some data to support a direction, you might unlock a brand-new path that you didn't see before.
I know in our conversations around marketing and branding and all of those things, it's been a fascinating case study on myself of my knee jerks and where I go and this complexity of mind and a number of variables that I'm not aware of starting to cause me to ask myself, now wait a second, why do I think that? Is that right? I don't know. And there's an openness which reduces my fight or flight response and therefore allows me to stay in the conversation instead of exiting the conversation quickly. Yes.
And here's the freebie for the day. If you've never heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect, you need to go look it up because the long and the short of it is those who have a little bit of information have a whole lot of confidence by and large in their stupidity. And as soon as they gain a little bit more knowledge, they realize how they should be so not confident because they know so little. So the Dunning-Kruger effect, it's a great one to look up, but it's what you're talking about. Right. It's when you don't know anything, but you ve got just a little bit of information. That's right. And you felt you knew. That's right. Until you got a little more information and you realized, wow, I have no clue. I have no clue. That's right. And then you could grow. And then you could learn. That's right. And then you could ask and be curious. That's exactly right. That's exactly right. I think the power of humility is when you can say, I don't know or I'm not good at this, that's like the path opens up to grow, learn, and develop. It doesn't mean you're going to be a subject matter expert in that particular thing, but hopefully you have enough information and enough experience that you can navigate that topic or that category of work more effectively. Yes.
One of the things that I've heard recently is the greatest asset in schools for children learning is to foster an environment where they stay in the posture of curiosity. Yes. And the more you can get a child to stay in the place of curiosity, the better and the more sticky the learning can be for them. It's exactly to the point you're making. You know, again, we're back at perspectives. It feels like all of the different topics we go through, perspective is so important.
Justin and I work with a lot of different companies, specifically with their leaders. And I think of a situation recently where we had one leader working with a stakeholder and they had some interactions. They clearly did not see the interactions the same way. So, the leader was talking to one group of other leaders in the organization and the stakeholder was talking with some other leaders in the organization, but they weren't the same ones. So you basically end up with these two camps who have only the perspective that they are owning from the one person who told them the story. And the problem is now you get that group together and it's in shambles because everybody sits in the camp of the individual whose story they heard first. And until there was the ability to take both sides and somebody sat in the middle who heard both stories and they were able to start infusing the story toward the opposite sides of the organization and people had the opportunity then to go, oh, the perspective that I have has been in part. And there is another story to be had. And until I understood that, I actually had, it's like being in a courtroom where somebody is the judge, the jury, and they're actually sentencing the person before there's even an opportunity to learn what's the defense's defense or what's the plaintiff's story. It was one side, here's one side, and they're already done with the case. And this is that same issue. When you're in a socialized mind, you are by and large closed off from being able to open up and entertain what might another perspective be, but it's so important. Ultimately, we're talking about sensemaking. When there are more pieces, complexity is all about lots of variables, right? And by and large, those variables, we don't know how they're going to play out. So, our ability to make sense of the information that we're receiving is either stunted or it is enhanced by our own level of complexity of mind. But complexity of mind as a child comes naturally. Complexity of mind and growth there as an adult comes by intentionality. And I think back to your statement about curiosity. Curiosity and the ability to hold your perspective in front of you with an open hand are two of the greatest proactive activities you can do to increase your ability to make sense of a more complex environment. I'm even thinking back to, we recently had a conversation with our team, five people, about some marketing objectives that we have as a business. And what was funny is, you know, it was a healthy discussion. Oh yes, I remember this conversation. At times, you know, different ones felt different tensions, etc. But when it was all said and done, I actually went back to everybody in the room individually and just asked them what was going on inside of them when that conversation was happening. Well, let's be clear. There was one point in the conversation where somebody did say, okay, I'm a little internally riled up right now. I'm trying to maintain my calm. And they did a tremendous job. They did a great job. But at the same time, they voiced that they were, they were, the emotions were escalated. Yes, yes. Well, but here's what was fascinating. I think almost everyone had a very different interpretation of the exact same conversation. That's right. Because our definitions were all different. What we brought into the conversation from our past was all varied. And so, the way each person interpreted the exact same conversation, you walked out with five different points of view. That's right. Yes. And I remember telling Shawn, I was like, this is complexity and it's a small team, five people. So how much more, if we see this in our environment, how much more these large organizations or longstanding organizations. Isn't that the truth? Yes. That have conversations, organizations that cross state lines or cross international borders and the complexity just increases with more variables that you have at play. It can be so easy to go off your past successes or your intuition. Everyone can quote unquote feel good about it. And yet it's not really a good decision because you haven't really gotten everything on the table that needs to be on the table. Everyone looking at the same set of issues that need to be looked at and then figure out a systematic way to unpack and solve the problems that are facing that team or that organization. That's right.
So, in the next week, what we want to challenge you with is taking a moment when you have a situation come up in your office, with your family, with a friend, and evaluate the origin of your story in interpreting the situation. Are you feeling something as an obligation to the community around you? Are you feeling something as a definition that is measured by something outside of you and you're using a standard that it's not actually your own standard, it's a standard that a boss set for you, it's a standard that a community that you're a part of set for you? Or is that definition actually coming from inside? Are you saying, I'm not willing to work eight hours, I want to work 10 hours because I need to be the one to give this amount of work? Are you saying, no, my job expects that I work 10 hours, so I work the 10 hours. Where are your standards being voiced from? Are they internal? Are they external? What is success in any situation? How are you defining it based on the people around you? Or is it something inside you that tells you, no, this is what a win is, this is what success is.
So, take some time over the next week or two, and as you evaluate situations, pause, and ask yourself, who sets that standard? What voices speak into that standard? And then be able to identify, am I living to the perspective of the people around me? Am I living to the perspective that's inside of me? But in both of those, can you then take what you find to be true and hold them with an open hand to pursue a perspective that's counter to, in addition to, an alternative to the perspective that you're currently holding?
We appreciate you tuning in and hope you enjoyed the show. One quick favor before you take off, please subscribe and it would mean a lot to us if you would leave a review on Apple Podcasts. If you tried our leadership experiment, comment below and let us know how it goes. We look forward to seeing you again on the balcony.