About World Views - the Flexible Will Inherit the Earth. Or Perhaps Mars.

Jan 09 • Ilona Nurmela • Comments: 8

Today I had a conversation that made me realise that the way we see the world influences all our interactions - business partnerships and business divorces, negotiations, mediations, any form of communication, really.

What I’m talking about is a distributive/divisive versus plentiful view of the world. The flexible will inherit the Earth. Or perhaps Mars. Or an Earth-like planet. Let me explain.

When you believe that the world resources are limited and there isn’t enough for everyone AND - this is important - you know that your success could come at someone else’s expense, but at best don’t care and at worst are happy about it - then you have a divisive world view. This could manifest itself in you trying to get the most out of things, or people’s attention, or yummy bits on the (negotiation) table, although this can also apply to food. Those who know that other lose out if they win - yep, distributive world view. The glass being half empty or half full is actually also a distributive world view, since the glass itself can float in an aquarium or an ocean - go crazy with your metaphors for the universe, it’s ok.

When you believe that the universe will provide, there is enough of things, attention, people, ideas, wealth, jobs, everything to go around AND - this is again important - you consciously live ecologically* - then you have a plentiful world view. (*Your success doesn’t come at anyone’s expense, rather if you benefit, everyone else benefits as well or if others benefit, you benefit, even if indirectly.) This can manifest itself in not limiting yourself professionally to just one thing, or in turning conflict situations into solutions that financially benefit both businesses (provided you agree and DO bury the hatchet and work HARD on re-building the trust), or in doing pro-bono work which later generates paid work.

Now why does it matter how you see the world?

Well, not everyone sees it the way you do. Ladders of inference dictate that we can draw different conclusions from the same set of data simply because our experiences and short-hand conclusions we have learnt to make based on those experiences are different. What are the symptoms? It’s easier to talk to someone who sees the world as you do and it is very tempting to label those whose world view you don’t get as “difficult people”. Result? If in business, at some point in the life of the business relationship, we could be looking at a business divorce with (unresolved) conflicts amongst partners being an early symptom. If at a negotiation table, when you’re taking a principled, interests-based approach and the other person a divisive one, then negotiations will take longer because it will take a while to convince the other person your approach is better - and it may turn out that you will not succeed, but will have to adapt to your counterpart’s style, especially if time is of the essence.

What can you do about this?

First, do you need to do anything about it at all? If you are of the distributive mind-set and you don’t change, the world will keep on spinning and present to you situations where people are “difficult”, cooperation partners are “unreasonable” and you will be constantly fighting to keep what you have or get more of what you want. If you have a plentiful view of the world, accept that everyone has a right to their world view and that it might not be your life lesson to change theirs.

If you want others to feel better understood, you can start with yourself. Listen. First ask them about their assumptions, expectations and wishes and then listen. You could also EXPLAIN your world view, your beliefs - about business, deadlines, time, trust, honour, quid-pro-quo, anything that matters when you’re negotiating a new deal or negotiating again to tweak the (biz) relationship. And then hope that the other person takes it on board and factors in why you want what you want.

The next level up is to learn how to be flexible. Yes, that’s right, for you to change yourself, not the other person. That involves active listening (2:1 listening:talking ratio is optimal) and learning new tools to communicate better (profiling, etc). So, if you consider yourself an accomplished professional who has learnt everything s/he needs to learn already and are comfortable with your communication style, this is not for you - you’d be happier doing jobs you are qualified for. However, a world of warning, whether you like it or not, the world is constantly changing and in 20 years, the jobs that are currently in high esteem - lawyer, accountant, etc - might be automated (AI) and you may find out that you still need to learn new things if you want to continue being employed.

After all, a world view is just a set of beliefs and beliefs can be changed. Whether you use external help (theta-healing or a BARS session) or work on your limiting beliefs yourself, you can change what you believe.

Some will argue that for change to happen there needs to be a reason. A better reason than the world is constantly changing, because that is way abstract. Yes and most people, given the opportunity are natural procrastinators aka lazy, me included. BUT the reason for change doesn’t need to be an external stimulus aka something that happens to you - a cheating partner (in life or in business), a difficult boss, a new acquisition (a simple liability like a car or a company or even a new team-mate). Change can come from within. All you have to do is decide.

Some will argue that why should they decide to change their distributive world view when there is too much evidence to the contrary - wars, famine, Earth’s extinguishing resources. How can they believe there is enough? Well, when you look for positive validation of your belief, you will spot it. If you look for positive validation that there isn’t enough - guess what - you’ll spot news and concentrate on bits of information that validate that belief. But when you look out for positive news of the Earth’s population boom slowing down, or on news regarding potential colonisation of Mars or finding Earth-like planets just a few light-years away, all of a sudden, you start seeing opportunities, because your belief that there is enough is being validated.

So, decide.

Today, I choose to believe that there is enough out there for everybody, that the universe will provide means, opportunities and resources for me to help companies and people be the best they can be and I will see it happen.

You can also decide that you distributive world view has served you well and you’re not going to change it - that’s ok too, you just need an external stimulus (s**t happening) in 1-5-20 years to get there.

The flexible will inherit the Earth. Or perhaps Mars or an Earth-like planet.

Comments: 8

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