Sunday, October 9, 2011

Artificial Barriers

One of the occupational consequences of working international projects is an abundance of long flight hours with time to kill. Once all the possible staff-work is complete and I’ve read as much as possible, the airline movie marathon starts. I categorize movies based on if I’d be willing to pay to see them at a theater, willing to pay to Netflix them, willing to watch them for free on a plane and last, movies I cannot even to watch for free. Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised by a movie I’ve never heard of.

“Cold Souls” (2009) starring Paul Giamatti was very odd and a nice surprise. An interesting scene in the movie involved a doctor explaining to Giamatti the concept of tying a young circus elephant’s ankle to a tent spike to stop them from wondering off. When young, the spike is strong enough to stop the elephant. The elephant “learns” that they cannot over-take the constraint. As the elephant grows bigger and stronger, they never question the power of the constraint. Of course the spike is no match for the large elephant, but they never try to over-power it.

This made me wonder what constraints we artificially apply to ourselves and/or what barriers our people believe that really do not exist. How often have you heard “we have never done it that way” or “this will never work?”

What artificial constraints can you remove for your people? What items can you fix that have really bothered the teams reporting to you?


Rebecca Lacy said...

Funny you should mention this. We saw an article a few years ago about how they use this to train elephants in India. We included it in some leadership training and it was interesting the barriers that the participants were able to identify.

Rajat said...

I was just having a similar conversation with my wife this weekend. How many times do you hear people saying "I don't do that" - people often put up barriers on what they THINK they can or can't do... rather than look fw on what they could do if they changed their mindset.

I read a book a couple years ago on this and recommend it...Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

John Bishop said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences. This seems to be a common theme.

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