The Monster Under Your Bed
When I was a kid, I sometimes got spooked by the dark or something that looked or sounded suspicious—some perceived monster under my bed. My parents tried to help me understand that my perceptions were not always true. They said it was important to not jump to conclusions. They taught me to test my situation—look at facts, turn on the light, ask for help.
These lessons have proved useful in my adult world—we all have our share of ‘monsters’ that bring us fear or dread—make us flee or fight or hide. Being able to ‘turn on the light’ and see perceptions out of the shadows, has helped me be effective and successful.
What’s Your Monster?
The adult version of a ‘monster’ can be even scarier.
Have you ever said something in a meeting, and then there was a response (a look, some words, a tone, silence) that you did not like? This is an example of when you take facts or something that happened and then you add a story, interpretation or meaning to it. You’re creating something that is not real, a monster under your desk.
As humans with brains designed to make meaning, we do this all the time. The problem is when we make decisions (flee or fight or hide) that create barriers to our success. Let’s go further with the example: say that you are interrupted in a meeting… While your interpretation might be accurate, how you ‘turn on the light’, stick with facts or ask for help in this situation, will determine if a monster interpretation gets you, or you get it!
Unexamined Assumptions vs. The Facts
Consider your work, projects, relationships and interactions with other people, teams, customers. Where are you creating monsters with that person or group? What actions/interpretations/re-actions perpetuate it? How could you separate what happened from the story or explanation you are bringing to it? What payoffs do you get by keeping that monster there? And the big one: what does that monster COST you? Unless and until you get to the satisfaction, results, health, vitality, relationship, reputation, and self-expression you are PAYING to have that monster hold on to you.
Creating a New Possibility
When we can ‘grow up’ and see the perceptions, unexamined assumptions and meaning that is costing us our effectiveness in any given situation, then we can take a stand for a new possibility. We can say, I created this monster, and I can create something else. And sometimes we need to ask for help doing this. I struggle every day with my own monsters. The possibility that I have come up with to neutralize my monsters is that I am committed to the possibility of greatness, mine, and others. It’s more than positive thinking. It is acknow