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Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box

by The Arbinger Institute | Jan 5, 2010

You know how you sometimes finish watching a movie or reading a book and you have to take a minute to remember where you are… because you were so caught up in the story? That was my experience in reading this book. I highly recommend it.

My behavior—and attitude—toward others has already started changing during this past week since reading it. "Leadership and Self-Deception" is an international bestseller that is available in over 20 languages.

It’s a simple read, written in story form, similar to “The One Minute Manager.” Yet for all its simplicity it packs a powerful punch with profound implications, much like the parables of Jesus. Through the story of an employee who faces the fresh challenge of a new job, a new company, a “tired” marriage and a less-than-ideal relationship with his son, the authors reveal the way “we can blind ourselves to our true motivations and unwittingly sabotage the effectiveness of our own efforts to achieve success” in our work, and joy in our most important relationships.

Actually, I found it to be a modern parable of Romans 12. Seriously… for example, in how we regard, work with, tolerate and treat others, but written in the context and language of business. Which puts a fresh twist on a concept many of us are familiar with but have a hard time carrying out—and don’t know why. This book helps reveal “the why,” which is why I found it so compelling and why I believe its message is so profound.

There’s something about stories that invite us into their life quickly, lowers our defenses, and excites something inside of us. Before we know it the story compels us to consider a perspective of truth that we might otherwise have dismissed or ignored.

This kind of truth, which has to do with the heart, cannot easily be taught as a piece of knowledge, to be learned, stored for future reference, and then used at a later time when the moment calls for it. No, this is a more profound, character-shaping truth, that is best communicated in story.

That’s why Jesus so often used parables, instead of the didactic teaching method that the religious leaders of his day used. Parables draw you in and before you know it, you recognize yourself, your family, and your friends in the characters of the parable. It’s self-discovery rather than being told (didactic). Which always bears deeper personal ownership. And leads to genuine change.


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