We receive so much valuable content from our customers, partners and internal subject-matter experts. On Thursdays, we thought it would be fun to do a “throw back” and bring back an older post that was valuable to our audience. Today’s throw back is about how mindset impacts leadership.
By Shawn Hunter
“Borders? I have never seen one. But I have heard they exist in the minds of some people.”
- Thor Heyerdahl, innovator, adventurer, and border-smasher
I have a friend who installed the same invisible dog fence I did, but he admitted he didn’t bother with the training and simply installed the underground wire and shackled his dog with the electrical buzz collar which would shock the dog whenever he got near the line. His thinking was the dog would just learn the boundaries himself and violà – a dog self-trained to stay in the yard. I asked him what happened, and he described that as his young boisterous dog started to run and play as usual he would get shocked and, since he didn’t associate the pain with any clear boundary, he eventually sat in the middle of the yard shaking in fear, paralyzed to move. From that point on all the dog wanted to do was stay in the house.
There are many dimensions to this story – not least the owner’s choice and behavior – but what I want to address is the dog’s perspective. The dog, not understanding why the random shocks, arrived at a state psychologists call “learned helplessness.” It’s the point at which they (we) are capable of believing that nothing we do matters, and regardless of our action, we’re going to be punished or bad things will befall us. A sense of control, and a sense that our behavior matters, is one of the most important predictors of happiness, and in turn workplace productivity, collaboration and creativity.