Join Jeff Weiner for an in-depth discussion in this video Be a spectator to your own thoughts, part of On Leadership by Jeff Weiner.
- So let's go into each one of these three areas. So the first, self-awareness, which to me is the most important, and is foundational for everything else that we're going to be talking about today. I think there's three things I'd like to get across that have become invaluable in terms of generating the right level of self-awareness. The first is to be a spectator to your own thoughts, especially when you become emotional. The second is manage compassionately, very much a mantra of ours here at LinkedIn, a first principle. We talk about relationships matter as one of our codified values. And I've oftentimes said over the last decade, if we were going to change any value, other than the one we just recently changed, demand excellence to inspire excellence, and there's that word inspire again, it would be probably to evolve relationships matter to be more explicit about managing compassionately, it's that important in my opinion. And the third is a kind of know thyself, and specifically within the construct and context of leadership and your career arc, knowing what it is that you ultimately want to accomplish. Which sounds very simple and obvious on the surface, but it never ceases to amaze me how few people, regardless of where in their career paths they are, take the time to understand what it is that they want to accomplish. So let's start with the importance of being a spectator to your own thoughts, especially when you become emotional. And there's a few different themes I want to cover today. The first is recognizing that human nature is an extremely powerful dynamic, and that we are wired for certain kinds of behavior. Instincts that have been passed down from generation to generation, developed from generation to generation, are with you for a reason. They keep you safe, they protect you. They enable you to make better decisions and create value. And sometimes these instincts, and sometimes the way in which you knee jerk to certain situations, is not in your best interest. And it's most definitely not in the best interest of those people that you work with. A few examples of this, first is egocentrism. Self-centered, that's the definition of egocentrism. It's literally putting yourself at the center of how you see the world. This is very natural. We all do it. This is what I meant about the way in which we are wired. We do this because by leveraging our lifetime of experiences, we are, in theory, able to make better decisions. We're able to think through the things that helped us and the things that hurt us, avoid the mistakes that we've made, and hopefully make better decisions over time. Egocentrism, by the way, should not be confused with egomaniacism. An egomaniac believes they're the most important part of the world in which they exist, not just that things revolve around them, but it's a far more extreme version of this and it can do a lot of harm and a lot of damage. Egocentrism is a little more natural. So we're not talking about egomaniacism, we're talking about an egocentric view of the world, and a very natural view of the world. We also all succumb to triggers. Past experience is a massive trigger, specifically trauma. And sometimes people think of traumas as these major catastrophic events. And what's happening with trauma, and an incident like that, is your brain actually rewires itself, so that it can recognize the threat and help prevent you from succumbing to that danger. So it's actually quite physiological. It's not just a psychological thing, it's physiological. And it takes time to unwind those neural connections, by putting yourself in safer situations, and recognizing that just because something happened in the past, it may not happen again in the future. So these are very real triggers, and ones that are deeply embedded in our psyche. Another is bias, particularly unconscious bias. Does anyone here feel like they have any unconscious biases? Discrimination against people who are not like you. And we seek to surround ourselves with people like us, because it helps us feel safe. And when taken in a way that is laden with unintended consequences, it creates a lot of us versus them mentality, and a lot of vitriol and toxicity. And you see that on the internet today. I don't think there was any intention to design the web in such a way that people would shield themselves with opinions just like theirs, so they could attack other people. I don't think that was the intention, but human nature came home to roost. And now it exists at a scale and a speed that no one could have anticipated. So these are very natural tendencies that we have, and we have to be very aware of them. And when we are aware we're being triggered. When we become aware that unconscious bias is starting to surface, when we become aware of in-grouping dynamics, that's when we can actually create value. When you can become a spectator to those processes, when you feel yourself being triggered by somebody else's agenda, that's when you can intervene, and you can ask yourself, "What's happening? Why am I feeling the way that I'm feeling?" That kind of self-awareness is very, very difficult because of these natural tendencies. And so in order to become a spectator of your own thoughts in those moments, it's really, really important to be in the moment, and to be conscious of what's happening to you and what's happening around you. And, in my opinion, one of the most important ways you can combat these natural tendencies is through a mindfulness practice. Now, when I say mindfulness, I think some people immediately think about meditation, but there's lots of different ways to be in the moment and become mindful and more conscious and aware. So working out, breathing, meditation, these are all examples of mindfulness practices. And this mindfulness practice, whatever it is that you're practicing, that to me is the way in which you can become better at becoming a spectator to your own thoughts, especially when you become emotional.
Learn about the importance of maintaining awareness of yourself, your team, your industry, and the world at large. Explore the topic of synthesis, which you achieve through developing your vision and values and by focusing on the most important priorities. Plus, learn about the role of inspiration in leadership, both in terms of being true to your own values and motivating others.