There are often decades between scientific discoveries and their real world applications. Initial attempts to apply concepts developed through observation, refined in the world of ideas, and supported by scientific evidence often overlook important considerations. Yet, these very considerations are what make the concepts meaningful when applying them to real world domains. When this is the case, I have found it useful to go back to original sources to recapture what might be missing from contemporary understanding. For example, many business books that talk about personal mastery, self-knowledge, mental models and beliefs as they affect business functioning present these concepts as if they simply represent choices that each of us can consciously make. While this might be interesting reading for a business audience, the vast majority are unlikely to make meaningful changes by relying on information alone. They must also know what actions they need to take and how to begin the process of change. This knowledge gap is especially evident when discoveries that occur in one field (e.g. psychology) are interpreted and applied in another (e.g. business). It is also why physicians go through a sophisticated process in diagnosing and treating disease and are unlikely to treat some early symptoms of throat cancer with cough syrup.
Hence, to further our understanding of mental models and how they influence our leadership decisions I have decided to go back to an early 1980’s book entitled “Your Inner Child of the Past” by W. Hugh Missildine M.D. and devote several posts to understanding how early childhood accommodations to parental excesses might affect adult leadership styles and decisions. The profound understandings offered by Dr. Missildine are summarized by him are based on three major ideas: 1.The child you once were continues to exist and influence your adult life. 2. As adults we act as parents to our inner child of the past whose reactions to our parental attitudes often cause us a lot of trouble. 3. Mutual respect between the child and parent within us is necessary condition for liberating our potential and effectiveness.
That can offer a foundation for more thorough understanding of some “cutting edge” business concepts that have become disengaged from their scientific foundation. I will devote several posts to furthering knowledge of how mental models and beliefs actually get influenced by early experiences, why these early experiences continue to influence our perceptions and actions as adults, and how we can become aware of them and change our lives through greater self-knowledge.