Category Archives: Behavioral Psychology

Three Reasons Why You Need To Color Outside The Lines

Remember when you were a kid and you had your box of zillion count crayons and you spent hours coloring in your others_rainbow_crayons-0411coloring books, but you never really wanted to color outside the big bold outlines? Well, we are all big boys and girls now, and it is more important than ever that we try and leave those lines behind and try some new things.

For centuries some of the most influential people have been coloring outside the lines (Plato, Galileo, Lincoln, Einstein…). However it is more important than ever to make this change in our behavior. Where as a great many people may think that the reason to be different is to just make yourself more ‘interesting’, corporations are looking for this behavior for much deeper reasons.

  1. Innovation – When you ‘color outside the lines’ your thoughts might stray a bit, and that can be a good thing. You want to expand on current ideas, and stretch yourself a bit (ok, sometimes more than a bit). New ideas don’t occur in a vacuum, they often happen when someone sees another individual’s ideas and expands on them. If you just keep creating the same old colors, within the same old lines…..your just going to keep having the same old ideas, and keep turning out the same old stuff.
  2. Humility – It says a lot about a person when they are willing to leave there comfort zone and try coloring something new, and possibly in a completely new shape (and heaven forbid coloring in someone else’s coloring book). When you are willing to say that something else might be better for my company than what I am already doing, that I might be holding my company back by maintaining the status quo, and that I am willing to go somewhere new to make it better, that says that you are willing to put the team ahead of yourself. Some of the most successful organizations on the planet (Google, Apple, and Amazon) strive to find humble people who see the team as being a more important commodity than oneself.
  3. Teamwork – People like working with people who have different ideas and skills, it makes life more interesting, doesn’t it? Beyond keeping life from getting boring, people who ‘color outside the lines’ also generally contribute a lot more to the broader picture……a LOT MORE! The individuals who bring unique ideas and skills become an asset and strength for the group, because in order for the team to survive in a hostile environment, it must embrace change, this doesn’t happen without leaving the lines. Sure, it might seem counter-intuitive, but squiggling outside the lines adds a feeling of security to the team too….people like knowing that something new and interesting is going on within the company. Change is good, and people know it!

images (8)Of course there are many other reasons why you would want to be your own person, and do things in a unique way. But these reasons seem to hold the most value for corporations these days. Organizations are looking for interesting people who are individuals who know when to put the ‘team’ first, not just be concerned with themselves and how things benefit him or her.

The corporate mindset of doing the same thing because it’s comfortable may work in the short-term, however since things in the world of business are constantly changing these are not the kind of people they need for survival in the long-term.

Change is good!

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Filed under Behavior, Behavioral Psychology, Creativity, Interaction, Leadership, Motivation, Organizational Psychology, Team Building

When Leaders Start Leading Too Much

It is hard to dispute the fact that we all need a little direction, a little guidance at some point in our lives. This either due to a lack ofDirection experience with a situation, a lack of fundamental knowledge about the subject matter, or it could just be a lack of motivation to accomplish the task in question. But, when is there too much leadership, and not enough exploration and growth on the part of those who seem to need that direction?

Leadership is often not so much about ability, it is more about responsibility and being able to management the skills and the abilities of those who are a part of your team. It is about being the one who is will to take on the role of mediating out when someone might need direction, and when they may not. It is part of the job of the leader to know when put pressure on some people to perform in a certain direction, and when to just let them do their own thing.

People very rarely like, or appreciate being led around by the nose constantly, always being told what to do and how it is going to be done. This leadership style has its place at times and may be necessary when emergencies arise, and there is absolutely no margin for error. But when this form of management becomes the norm in an organization, or even at home, this can cause resentment, discord, and even worse; complacency. Too much of this kind of leadership may send the message that the team isn’t trusted to figure things out on their own.

CreativeCreativity flourishes when people are given the freedom to ‘play’ and approach problems and situations with their own style and abilities. Innovation relies on a leader given their team the problem at hand, giving the team the restrictions placed on the leader, and then letting the team figure out a way around those restrictions to the solution.

The creativity that your leadership establishes also need a level of restraint, as you don’t want the members of you team losing sight of the established vision (Goodman, 2013). However these constraints should be realistic and allow for freedom of movement, and they should be consistent with your style of leadership.

As a leader, one should consistently be analyzing the approach toward team members, and whether or not the team’s production correlates with your style of leadership. This analysis should tell you when you team is responding to your methods, and when there needs to be a change. Your people may not always tell you when you either need to lay off the breaks or when they need more direction, this is part of the responsibility of leadership, the ‘knowing’, not always the ‘doing’.

 

Goodman, N. (2013, August 13). Striking the Perfect Balance Between Creative Freedom and Realistic Limits. Retrieved November 20, 2014, from Entrepreneur: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227673

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Black Friday

Ever wonder why we are so attracted toward going to the mall, and battling the insane mobs of people that congregate

Shopping

there on that specific day of the year? Why rather than doing our shopping at sporadic points during the Christmas season, so many of us  gather at this mecca of craziness? There is a very primitive reason for this behavior.

Why do we do most things these days? Mostly because our social and tribal nature says so. Why does the gentleman help the elderly woman across the street? Yes, it is the nice thing to do, but also he has a protective instinct to do so. Why does the woman tell the strangers child not to play with the light socket? Again, it is the right thing to do, but she also has an instinct to protect the young of the human tribe. We also have innate tribal instincts that drive us to shop, and our capitalist corporate knows how to prey on this.

So why do we shop where we shop? Social Learning Theory might tell us that we shop where our family and friends shop, that this is all just learned behavior. This explanation works well, although I (and others) believe there must be more to it than that. We are all social animals, and as such we all have an instinctive need to carry out necessary activities together in groups, originally this may have been for survival and a better chance of accomplishing the task (this is why the caveman usually went out to hunt with his buddies). But now, since the threat level is gone, these reasons may have changed, but are no less important.

So why do we make the trip to the mall to shop on what has come to be known as “Black Friday”? Well, since the time Caveman-Diet1when we were all cave men and cave women we all  have had; a need to hunt, a need to compete, a need to accomplish. For some this need is met through being successful in business, for some it is met through competitive sports, but for many of us this need is still only met through this urge to hunt for those elusive deals, either on our own or in packs.

Shopping on Black Friday can provide us with a great many unseen benefits, depending on the perspective we take. True, the stress that the shopping can cause may be a bit unnerving to say the least,  but if you take your time while you’re out and about these benefits become clear.

  • Accomplishment – When you find that elusive deal that might be better than the other shopper, it feels great…..like you just won the lottery (ok, not THAT GOOD). But it does feel good, that’s a serotonin rush. Serotonin has numerous beneficial effects on the human body, both physical and psychological. Just remember, once you get the ‘feel good’ feeling, you’ll want more.
  • Social Interaction – The mere act of being around other people has beneficial effects on you, however you can do one better. Interacting with others and being helpful to others can give you that feeling of accomplishment once again. Who knows, while you are out you might make a friend and extend your social support network.
  • Exercise – With all the lifting, walking, carrying, and other activities involved in shopping at the mall, you are giving Brighton_Churchill_Square_Shopping_Centreyour body quite a workout. The cardiac, respiratory and weight management benefits here are obvious. But, during that day long workout when the endorphins kick in and you start getting your second wind, they will make the stress easier to handle.

We all may have our different reasons for dealing with the craziness that is Black Friday, but we all share the same primitive qualities that we have discussed, it comes down to whether or not we are prepared to indulge these aspects of our humanity. Fortunately, when we do we can gain some benefits from the experience, as long as we keep things in perspective.

So, your spouse, partner, friends or family might tell you that they don’t really feel like going out with you into all that insanity to feed the corporate monster at the mall. Remind them that you can also get the same benefits by going out and shopping at the local stores, as long as you do it together.

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Filed under Behavior, Behavioral Psychology, Interaction, Motivation, Psychology, Sociology