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convictions clash with ability to listen

Having profound convictions about something or a deep-seeded belief is a really great thing. It gives our decision-making a needed frame of reference and can help carry us through tough seasons in our work. Countless leadership books speak about developing a culture of conviction or some similar idea.

Today I want to point out that profound conviction can have a dark side.  For example, if you believe that your developed beliefs are always right, then the dark side is that others are (always) wrong.  When that is the case we often stop listening to people unless they already believe the same thing that we do (this, by the way, is how leadership echo-chambers are produced).


How might we continue to grow in our beliefs about our lives and still grow in our capacity to hear others who don’t believe the same way we do?  Could we grow in our ability to sit with someone and hear their ideas about politics or religion; about parenting or what success means?  Or have we so fully developed our own thinking on these things that it is impossible to hear others?


This absolutely touches upon the “being right” part of our Lizard Brains.  And remember what the Lizard Brain does for us: it promotes basic survival while simultaneously keeping us from using the energy needed to attain positive growth. I am certainly not suggesting you lose all your beliefs just to quiet down your lizard, but I am recommending you think about how you think about your beliefs and how this thinking may impact your ability to have deep relationships with others.  As with any other possession in life, I am learning how to hold on to my beliefs but to hold them with an open hand.


It is tough work.  It is good work.