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Avoid the ‘mythical thinking’ trap

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

Smart people can sometimes fall into dangerous thought patterns called “mythical thinking,” in which their belief system is so unshakable that they miss the obvious.

What happens when you rely on “mythical thinking”?
  • Commitment. You pledge yourself to a way of thinking, and it’s difficult to rid yourself of that myth.

  • Group support and shunning. You have to either “drink the Kool-Aid” or get kicked out of the group.

  • Personal benefit. Your ego, prestige and perks add power to a myth.

  • Previous success. You have a hard time letting go if you base the myth on long-term dominance.

  • Unconvincing data. You need clear, objective data to explode a myth. A mighty image, such as GM’s prolonged dominance among carmakers, allows adherents to see only what supports the myth.
Lesson: Pull yourself back into reality and pretend you’re just starting out in your field. You have no history, only opportunity. What would you do?

—Adapted from Think Smart, Act Smart, Jim Nightingale, John Wiley & Sons.

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