This website covers topics on knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

If you think it, is it reality?

RealityListening to podcasts this week, I came across an odd juxtaposition of topics associated with whether things are real if we can think them.  I happened to listen to In Our Time and LeanBlog podcasts sequentially, and the ideas connected in my mind.

The first was the In Our Time podcast on the "Ontological Argument" for the existence of God. I know enough philosophy to follow the discussion, but not to repeat it. Suffice to say that there has been a long-standing discussion around whether the considering the idea of something can make it "real."  (The podcast is ~40 minutes long, so there is obviously a lot more to it.)  

The second podcast was Mark Graban's LeanBlog podcast #158 with Art Byrne, mostly discussing Byrne's new book, The Lean Turnaround. During the discussion, however, he mentioned a key mental twist that people have: If you believe it cannot be done, it won't be. If you believe it can be done, it will.  This was part of a larger discussion around goals and "stretch goals."  When managed correctly, you should reach for the difficult because failing those goals will get you much further than succeeding on "easy" goals.  

I know the philosophical argument is different from the one that Art Byrne was making, but it still seemed like there was a connection.  There is an aspect of "what you think is reality" - at least it is reality for you.  On the "is there a god" side of things, there is certainly that element: either you believe or you do not.  And on the human behavior side of things, there is much more to this idea. The first step in changing who and what I can do as an individual - or what we can do as an organization - is often changing what we believe or think about ourselves.

Next time you hear any of the classic "we can't do that" lines, find a way to turn them around.  Almost all the ways to turn them around involve thinking and learning. Most of these statements almost preclude learning.

  • We can never reach X goal.  Let's make it more realistic.
  • We've tried that before (and it didn't work).
  • We can't do that here.
  • Diets don't work for me.
  • They will never let us do that.

[Photo: "Reality" by Nuala]

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