Want To Be A Better Leader, Don’t Rely On Your Memory

image credit: New Scientist.com

Do you remember that, probably not?

Memories can be suggested:

In one test, subjects were told there was news footage of the plane crash of United 93 in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, even though no actual footage exists. When asked whether they remembered having seen the footage before 29 percent of people stated they had.

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/11/how-many-of-your-memories-are-fake/281558/

Memories can be false:

Hillary Clinton once famously claimed that she had come under sniper fire during a trip to Bosnia in 1996. “So I made a mistake,” Clinton said later about the false memory.

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/11/how-many-of-your-memories-are-fake/281558/

Memories are inaccurate:

In 70 percent of the cases where DNA has overturned a conviction, it also contradicted the testimony of one or more eyewitnesses to the events at issue.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/07/the-science-of-why-eyewitness-testimony-is-often-wrong/

When we remember what likely happens is that you recall a version of partially true events mixed in with a variety of pretty accurate details.

We place so much trust, energy, and effort in the construction of and in the remembering of past events, and yet memories are simply not trustworthy, they are in fact a reconstruction, versus an accurate recall of what happened.

“Memory is an ‘imaginative reconstruction’ of experience (Bartlett, 1932).”

Which is why we need to be patient, cautious, and wary of what others or we ourselves say we remember.

If we stick to our memory to prove a point, or make a decision we are knowingly taking action based on unstable, and ever-changing thoughts tainted by what we want to remember, and what we desire to be true.

From a leadership standpoint this is important to remember J because leaders too often feel as though the decision making process is a solitary behavior. When in reality research shows that we would be better served by taking in a variety of perspectives, and referencing hard data like notes or audio whenever possible to supplement our recall, and ultimately inform our decision.

The shift here should be from I alone know, to I alone might have to make the decision, but I would be foolish if I only considered what I remembered to be true about any one moment, person, or memory.

So start journaling, recording, and inviting in discussions from other people, not only will it improve your memory, you’ll make better decisions, and become a better leader.

Peace,

Mike Watson

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