Blind Faith

Day One/Scene One: Husband and I doing laundry. Husband takes laundry out of washer and places in dryer. I put new load in washer. Husband sets up dryer cycle by turning knob to desired temperature and then pulls knob to start dryer. Knob comes off in his hand. Husband pushes knob back on and tries again. Same result. Husband and I look at each other in dismay, look at the knob-less spindle sticking out of the control panel, then look at each other again. I suggest trying to pull spindle out with pliers. Husband tugs with no success. Husband and I drag drying rack up from basement and hang clothes on deck to dry. Husband calls Dryer Repair Guy.

Day Two/Scene One: Dryer Repair Guy shows up at house. Husband escorts him to dryer. I remain in my office where I soon hear laughter wafting up the stairs. Husband writes check. Dryer Repair Guy departs in less than two minutes.

“What happened?” you might be wondering. Well…On Day One/Scene One I stood next to my husband while he turned and pulled the temperature control knob – multiple times, I might add – to start the dryer. I, in my “trying to help with mechanical matters that elude me from the get-go” place, attempted assistance with the pliers suggestion. Here’s the problem. The dryer has NEVER started by pulling on the temperature knob. The dryer has a separate knob that controls the on/off mechanism. It’s always worked that way and in the six years that we’ve had the dryer there’s never been a time when the knobs had a secret meeting to switch roles. My husband simply lost his mind for a moment and I, in blind faith, followed where he led.

How many times do we blindly follow others? What would we learn if we stepped back to assess the situation on our own, give ourselves a moment to take a breath, calm our mind and access clarity of thought? What would be new or different?

I work with leadership teams and sometimes observe such blind faith, people following senior leadership even in the face of a better option. In coaching these leaders I’ve learned that there are various emotions or mental blocks that distract them–lack of confidence, fear of making a mistake or a feeling of being overwhelmed, for example. If I were to replay the tape, I’m sure I’d find that my mind wasn’t on the dryer that day, that I was distracted by something else.  If I had stepped back and taken a deep breath I likely would have removed the pliers from my husband’s hands and had the insight to pull the correct knob.

Day Two/Scene Two: Husband says to Dryer Repair Guy, “At least you’ll have a good story to tell, huh?” Dryer Repair Guy says to Husband, “This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this. But it usually happens to guys much, much older.”

What do you notice that distracts leaders’ ability to see clearly?

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