WISDOM LEADING: The Conversation

Weekly Wisdoms Blog

We Hold These Things to be Self-Evident

Dr. Foster Mobley // Business, History, Quotables, Wisdom Leading

This week, the story dominating the news here in Southern California is a dreadful one: a rogue ex-LAPD officer on a deadly vendetta against his former law enforcement colleagues. His ongoing tale got me thinking about the unspoken assumptions we all make about one another. For example, in the case of the fraternity of peace officers to which this deranged, violent individual once belonged, the unspoken, self-evident truth has always been, "We have each other's backs." That's why it's so shocking and terrifying when a cop turns against his own: it makes that assumed, reassuring truth out to be a lie. That's also why I think creating an environment that nurtures wisdom includes creating a safe space where unspoken assumptions can be expressed and confirmed...or contradicted. There are unspoken assumptions running through all our lives. We assume that our spouses are faithful, our teachers noble, our doctors dedicated and our public servants ethical. Allowing such assumed truths to go unquestioned might seem like an act of trust, but in reality we can set ourselves up for brutal wake-up calls when people fail to uphold the standards we've set for them-as human beings often do. The result is a cynicism that corrodes trust. I believe that it is far better for an organization to encourage its people to examine the truths they hold dear, even if the result is that some of those assumptions are discarded. Uncomfortable truths are better than reassuring myths. What unspoken assumptions can be found in your organization?

This week, the story dominating the news here in Southern California is a dreadful one: a rogue ex-LAPD officer on a deadly vendetta against his former law enforcement colleagues. His ongoing tale got me thinking about the unspoken assumptions we all make about one another.

For example, in the case of the fraternity of peace officers to which this deranged, violent individual once belonged, the unspoken, self-evident truth has always been, "We have each other's backs." That's why it's so shocking and terrifying when a cop turns against his own: it makes that assumed, reassuring truth out to be a lie. That's also why I think creating an environment that nurtures wisdom includes creating a safe space where unspoken assumptions can be expressed and confirmed...or contradicted.

There are unspoken assumptions running through all our lives. We assume that our spouses are faithful, our teachers noble, our doctors dedicated and our public servants ethical. Allowing such assumed truths to go unquestioned might seem like an act of trust, but in reality we can set ourselves up for brutal wake-up calls when people fail to uphold the standards we've set for them-as human beings often do. The result is a cynicism that corrodes trust.

I believe that it is far better for an organization to encourage its people to examine the truths they hold dear, even if the result is that some of those assumptions are discarded. Uncomfortable truths are better than reassuring myths.

What unspoken assumptions can be found in your organization?

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Dr. Foster Mobley

Trusted advisor and coach to admired executives globally for 3 decades, Thought leader on wisdom-based approaches to breakthrough leading, "Lead Coach" for Deloitte's experienced and high potential leader development, Team performance advisor to two NCAA championship teams