Many of us exist in a black and white world when it comes to our likes and dislikes… Of people, situations, values, process. This came up in a couple of discussions I was having yesterday and its worthwhile to explore this. Take an example – lying is bad and you don’t lie ever. Great value to have, but there will come a situation when you will need to lie to keep someone you love from breaking down, to keep someone from harming you or your loved ones. Simple to understand and immediately everyone would say, ofcourse it’s contextual and it’s ok to lie if it results in something good.
Flip this over a couple of levels – one of your values is excellence in whatever you do. You go about your work with a lot of passion, take everyone along and the team loves you. One of your peers does the same slightly differently, gets worked up if deadlines are not met and doesn’t care about weekends, calls people up during their personal time and wants to deliver things within a deadline. You don’t like him and other people don’t like him and there is stress and pressure all around. You stand your ground to say this guy doesn’t value people, is selfish, cares only about himself – all incorrect. If only you sat down and did a values mapping you would be shocked how closely they match yours. Do the exercise for strengths – again you might find very similar strengths. The application of values, of strengths, varies basis context, maturity and externalities. When someone’s performance is bad – you ask if it is a skill or a will issue and if it is a skill issue, you try hard to fix it with training or moving the person to another role etc. If you conclude it’s a will issue, we are quick to judge that this person’s attitude is not right and it could very well be the case, but given the right context, the attitude might just look very positive and different.
Am no one to pass judgement … Am the classic victim of the black and white syndrome, till Venki and life events brought the glorious shades of contextual greys to light !!
So go on, continue to use the black and white yardstick, but every time you do, kick yourself a bit to also see the other shades of contextual greys that are there, waiting to be seen and heard. My decision making, maturity and acceptance of diversity in thoughts has improved significantly ever since I started seeing these greys, but there is so much more room for improvement.