Last week we begun a mini series on understanding perception to improve behaviour and communication at work - if you missed Part 1 on ‘assumptions’ click here. This week we are surfacing the idea of ‘Maps’.
The Map Is Not The Territory
In team workshops I use a phrase called “the map is not the territory”. What this means is, we tend to develop “maps” in our minds that are not an accurate representation of the “territory” or the place in which we outlive our reality. Instead we develop constructs of the “territory” based on beliefs, otherwise known as tiny pieces of evidence we have gathered with our senses that we believe are the closest representation of the truth. A great example of this was when the earth was believed to be flat!
Constructs that tend to hold us back are called limiting beliefs. A limiting belief is anything that holds us or perhaps the performance in our team back from being excellent. It becomes a filter through which we view reality, kind of like a view master.
For example, we can hold beliefs like:
- We are poor at sales
- If our organization is successful we will lose our family culture
- Our people won’t change
- Customers wont pay a higher price
- I don’t have the confidence for the position
- I don’t have enough time
- This is the only way to do it
- Bad stuff always happens to me
- People always judge before really knowing me
- One of my staff is lazy
- This team hasn’t got what it takes to hit this month’s budget. We can’t execute
Beliefs also tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies; our beliefs and thoughts determine our reality. We are always moving in a direction that fulfills our beliefs about what we know to be true. If I hold a belief about something or someone I tend to reject anything else that says that its not true, otherwise I make myself appear to be a liar - do I want to do that? No, of course not, therefore I tend to only see things that reinforce this construct.
What if you had observed negative qualities in your team? You tend to ignore anything that is contrary to what you believe about them and you will look for behaviours that reinforce what you know to be true (self-fulfilling prophecies).
Super important point for any leader, sports coach, teacher or parent.
If we don’t believe ‘there is enough time in the day to fulfill our responsibilities’, we limit our perspective on what can be achieved. Notice the language patterns framed as questions or statements to ourselves that reinforce limiting beliefs as true –
“Why can’t I find more time to get things done?!”…
“Do you think we can reach this goal amidst the demands of everything else?”…
“I don’t have time for me, let alone fitting ‘this’ into my week”...
“I’ve tried creating more time once before”…
For 1 whole day take a conscious note of your internal communication; the dialogue you have with yourself. Note down what you are mentally recording to yourself and projecting externally.
Then ask: does this belief empower me to build my ideal life, business, or team?!
P.S Would love to hear your thoughts and perhaps some limiting beliefs you didn’t know you even had!