The Undivided Life Blog


Instead of being just like you...

company culture mindset undivided life Mar 25, 2024
Man and his daughter holding a trophy from the daddy daughter dance competition

Instead of being just like you, do you think I could be just like me?

We were a few minutes down the road, and my daughter Lorelei had just cooled down after throwing a fit back at the house. She had been under the weather that week, and in her rundown state, she reacted very poorly to something we said, and her resulting tone and words were both very hurtful.

Lorelei is our oldest, and she acts a lot like I did growing up (and still do now). When I watch her interact with friends and family, I closely align with how she is feeling and accurately predict her triggers most of the time. It is wild to watch as my child has become a powerful reflection of my strengths and weaknesses as a communicator and a leader.

In an attempt to calm her down while also acknowledging my own desire for improvement, I often tell Lorelei that she is exactly like her dad. I explain how I would have reacted the same way as a kid and that I want her to know that she isn’t strange or different because she is just like me.

As I shared this sentiment with her once again, she gave me an incredible nugget of wisdom. In a calm and collected manner, she asked, “Instead of being just like you, do you think I could be just like me?”

At that moment, my mini-me became my teacher. I realized that while we had similar traits overall, we were also uniquely and wonderfully designed, and no one else could ever be me or her.

While Lorelei is “a lot” like me, she is exactly like her.

I know that parents reading this are having that same internal dialogue moment right now. We know in our hearts that what Lorelei said is true, but that doesn’t stop us from making the proclamation that our child is just like us and that we know everything they are feeling.

It turns out we also do this at work with our coworkers, clients, and other stakeholders. We claim that we already know what others are thinking and can accurately predict what they will say, do, or feel next. We unintentionally silence dialogue and manipulate outcomes as if we already know everything about someone because of previous interactions or closely aligned personality traits.

Sometimes, we confidently proclaim our false sense of omniscience out loud with phrases like “I already know what he/she will say next….” Other times, we are more indirect and take over a conversation with the line, “I know where you are going; let me just jump ahead…” In either case, we remove the full participation and truly unique perspectives of the other humans in our work and then justify it with an inner dialogue that we” already know” it all.

But let’s be clear. There is a time and place for this approach. Often, we need to decide quickly, or our data only needs to be 90% accurate to proceed. In those cases, it can make sense to move quickly and decisively.

What is not acceptable is to make the “I already know” mindset your modus operandi. When you believe that someone is exactly like you or that you can perfectly predict another person, you may accidentally create a company culture that devalues the participation of others and diminishes the unique values and diversity of thought that your teammates have to offer.

I hope you get to meet Lorelei someday. She is a lot like me, and she is EXACTLY like her.

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