By: Dale A. Hicks, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist, Certified CEO Effectiveness Executive Coach 

thumbs-up-797580_1920As Dr. Anton suggests in his recent post, the best “inside advantage” is self-knowledge, which includes greater awareness, understanding and mastery of oneself. Clearly, gaining greater mastery over our thoughts, feelings and behaviors facilitates our path toward success and satisfaction in every aspect of our lives. We can only offer our best to others, and to our efforts, when we have access to the best of ourselves.

In his book, Yes You Can, Bill Townsend states, “When you begin your own self-examination… it is going to open your eyes to things that you can immediately begin to change…” He goes on to state that, “Of course, you won’t like everything you learn about yourself when you shed your illusions and take a good look at (yourself). Nobody likes to admit that they have problems.” Consistent with this, the kind of transformational changes that Dr. Anton references, and are encouraged and facilitated by CEO Effectiveness, are not easily achieved. To do so, we must challenge our long-held mental models, our core beliefs about ourselves and the world that have shaped, and been shaped by, our life experiences and our unconsciously held self-biased perceptions. We all see and experience things through our own set of lenses and thus cannot, without genuine reflection, count even on our own experiences to disconfirm the faulty beliefs we hold. In fact, in a very real sense, we actually “train” others, through our ongoing interactions with them, how to respond to us in ways that continue to confirm our entrenched beliefs about ourselves and the world.

This is why scientists make efforts, when possible, to conduct experiments utilizing a “double-blind” research method. That is, neither the subjects (i.e. the people participating in the experiment) nor the experimenters themselves know which subjects are receiving the actual treatment and which are not. Otherwise, the outcome of the study may be biased in the anticipated direction. (Even scientists, without sufficient reflection, often see what they are expecting to see.) Similarly, if we are to actively challenge (and “test”) our own mental models and deeply held beliefs, we must do so in a manner similar to scientists seeking new knowledge. We must, to the best of our ability, suspend our biased expectations and allow ourselves to be open to the disconfirming evidence available to us if we only pay closer attention to the world around us.  We may come to see ourselves and others in entirely different ways. Ways which are actually more closely aligned with reality and which more effectively serve us and those in our lives.

Often, our accomplishments, as well as our happiness and life satisfaction, are diminished most by our own self-limiting belief systems. And, often, these are not based on any viable evidence, only messages passed down through time without critical review. It is only through persistent challenging and “doing the harder thing” that allows us to break free of these limiting factors and, indeed, gain the inside advantage.