The Perpetual Myth

A while ago, while facilitating a team I witnessed an amazing event.  The team was having a discussion about improving their operation and leading well, but that was not the amazing part.

During the discussion, every (and I mean every) time one team member brought up an area for improvement the leader immediately spoke up about how well the organization did in that area.  At first I thought it was a fluke, but after it continued to happen, I couldn’t help myself, and the words just came out.

“So, is this session going to be about continuing the MYTH of who this organization used to be, or are we going talk about making it better?”

At first I regretted the outburst, especially since the leader slowly got up and walked out of the room.  (By the way that was the first time that had ever happened, and I wondered if I was about to be fired.)  After an awkward silence, the group cautiously pressed forward and identified areas that needed improvement and after about an hour the leader returned and addressed the group.

This leader told a story about the state of the organization years ago, and how this leader took on a visionary-promoting role that helped transform the last decade.  Now the amazing part…the leader then admitted that the prior role had created a blind spot especially since the leader was so invested in the progress they made.  Identifying the MYTH, helped this leader see more clearly and understand that the team was not tearing anything down, but was trying to take the organization even higher.

So, where are you perpetuating a MYTH…about who you are, or who your organization is? Talking about it and carrying it out are worlds apart.  Ask the tough questions, and more importantly think about your reaction when people bring up what you or your organization could be doing better.  Do you default to the MYTH, or do you find the opportunity to improve?

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