Challenge assumptions (especially you own)

In a business context, nothing is certain.  Sometimes it’s easy to see what you want to see, to believe what you want to believe.
Sometimes, we find ourselves believing that things are exactly how we want them to be, ignoring any other point of view, denying facts that don’t fit into our neat little view of the world.  And this can be true even in the face of overwhelming evidence that would seem to prove us wrong.

Psychologists call this tendency, “confirmation bias.”

It is well established in research that human beings are much more likely to hear or see facts that support what they already believe. At the same time, facts that don’t fit these predetermined beliefs are not recognized or understood.

A strong leader knows his or her weaknesses. It always pays to recognize that no one can escape confirmation bias, not even you. All of us gather facts that support what we already believe, and worse, we tend to ignore what doesn’t. This tendency can be annoying, even maddening, when we watch others do it.

But it is downright dangerous when we do it to ourselves.

CrossCountryTripJulyAugust2008 1499This is why it is always a good idea to challenge your own assumptions and beliefs.

It is also why it is a good idea to have colleagues around who will challenge prevailing assumptions, especially yours.

Let the facts lead the way, even when they aren’t what you expected, and especially when you don’t want to believe them.