A thoughtful piece from the Pathwise archives, by Chad Hattrup, PhD

A concept we often talk about in our classes relates to our tendency to believe that we are thinking, when in reality we are actually recalling. Not that recalling is intrinsically bad, but rather that we don’t see that our “ideas” come from past experiences or training and rarely take in the unique circumstances of this particular moment.  By coming at a problem from the position of “not knowing” and passing through the tendency of my ego to tell me I already do this; I may then experience the tension of not knowing. On the other side of this tension, I may find myself open to think of something new or find the openness to listen curiously to others out of which something new can arise. How can something new come when I already know?

I was teaching a class in the boardroom of a publicly traded company the other day and I imagined all of these hardened and stressed out faces “recalling” and “I knowing” over strategic matters. Then I pictured all of these board members with puzzled yet curious looks on their faces. The second picture might just be of a board or leadership team that really could innovate instead of just talking about it.

I realize that I too have a boardroom in my head with a lot of “recalling” and “I knowing” going on and that this keeps me just as stuck as those imagined board members in companies all over. I see that I am tempted to go with the loudest voice, and this keeps me from hearing the more tentative, and yet somehow more knowing voice beneath.

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