When conducting research for his bestselling book, Factfulness, Dr. Hans Rosling asked simple questions about global trends and systematically received wrong answers-so wrong that a chimpanzee choosing answers at random would have consistently outguessed teachers, journalists, Nobel laureates, and investment bankers. Why? Because our instincts and risk-aversion conspire to make us perceive the world as a scary place-a place where we probably shouldn’t even do business.
The problem is that we don’t know what we don’t know, and unconscious, predictable biases and fear inform both our guesses and behavior-and stand in the way of us engaging in risky business.
Our fears, perceptions, and biases tell one story, but the facts tell a different one. As it turns out, the world, for all its imperfections, is in better shape than we might think. We have real problems, but when we spend our energies worrying about the future or feeling guilty about the past, we lose our focus and exhaust our abilities to solve problems, make high-caliber decisions, and take the necessary risks to grow and change.
More than a century ago Freud explained how we create obstacles for ourselves. That is, the id, ego, and superego create a battlefield in our brains where the rational mind and emotional mind clash, just when we need them to make peace.
They compete for control when we attempt to make risky decisions to effect transformative change. Successful changes, however, follow a pattern based on a mindset that tells us that change will bring improvement and most mistakes aren’t fatal.
When our intellect and our emotions wage war, resilience and motivation suffer the consequences-the victims of a situation they didn’t want in the first place. When this happens, we start to alter our beliefs, often developing a victim mentality, one characterized by pessimism and despair. How can a person tolerate ambiguity with such a mindset?
Revolutionary ideas constantly besiege leaders. Throughout history, everyone has been eager to help those in charge make smart, informed decisions about the future. Abraham Maslow and Douglas McGregor helped us understand the psychology behind human behavior. Deming, “the man who discovered quality” served as the prophet of the learning organization. We think of Peter Drucker as the founder of modern management and the inventor of the concept known as management by objectives.
The list is endless, but one stark reality surfaces: it is possible for individuals to have a major impact on history, if they are willing to take a chance on their ideas. It won’t happen automatically, however. Five psychological forces influence high-stakes decision making: beliefs, cognition, emotions, motivation, and resilience. When we leverage all five, we develop a Disruptive Mindset ™. We don’t ignore, diminish, or deny fear; we accept it. We trust our abilities to sail in unchartered seas. We understand how human emotions help us function-or not .
As systemic, discerning thinkers, we commit ourselves to continuous learning and consistently remain open to new ideas without being naïve-all the while avoiding the trap of hubris. With optimism and a commitment to excellence, we steadfastly move ideas to action.
A Disruptive Mindset–one that shapes resilience–recognizes that challenges aren’t permanent; talented people can figure things out; and even failure isn’t fatal. This mindset allows us to learn from past mistakes so we can move past them and thrive. Then, we can take the requisite steps to develop the kind of disruptive mindset that will enable us to make 2020 a banner year.