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Do you remember the Road Runner cartoon? Wile E. Coyote would be chasing Road Runner who would “beep, beep!” and manage to slip away. Always two steps ahead of the coyote, Road Runner just outmaneuvered him in every episode.
I remember when the coyote would run right off a cliff in pursuit. And he would dramatically just keep running on air, not realizing that he wasn’t on solid ground. Though it was predictable, you would see the sudden realization, the pause, the expression and then the inevitable fall.
As a kid, I identified with the road runner. We were outsmarting our opponent. We just laughed at that coyote. How could he be so stupid? Every single week, he repeated the same mistakes. How could you be running so fast that you don’t realize you just ran off a cliff?
I watched one of those old cartoons today, and I looked at it from a completely different perspective. Instead of identifying with the road runner, I saw the coyote with new empathy.
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Imagine waking up one morning. You turn off the alarm clock and you see a little note. It’s from your spouse.
It says, “You are the best! Thank you for a wonderful weekend. I’m the luckiest person alive to be married to you!”
You check your email and there’s a note from someone who works with you. “I just wanted to drop you a note to say that your work on our project made all the difference. You really nailed it.”
You drive to work and someone stops you and says, “I’m glad to see you. Just seeing you makes me feel good. Thanks for all you do for me.”
Rather far-fetched? Can’t possibly imagine that scenario, right?
Frustrations In Perspective
A few weeks ago, I had one of those days. You know what I’m talking about. You’re going to a meeting when someone suddenly cuts you off. You decide to grab a quick cup of coffee at Starbucks. Instead of moving at the normal fast pace, the line seems to take forever. Finally getting your coffee, you glance at your watch and think you have just enough time to make it to the meeting. But when you rush back out to your car, you find someone has decided to park behind you. After locating the offending car owner, you are back on your way only to get a phone call asking if you could delay the meeting until tomorrow.
Life’s frustrations. It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily grind and forget what truly matters.
During this particularly frustrating day, I heard something that immediately changed my point of view. Immaculee Ilibagiza was visiting Nashville in a few weeks. Just thinking of her story changed my perspective in an instant.
Do you know her story?
One of the Most Powerful Stories I’ve Ever Heard
Immaculee grew up in Rwanda and had a fairly normal life until 1994 when everything changed. Hutu extremists seized control of power and began a genocide that would rip her world apart. Immaculee hid for 91 days with seven other women in a small bathroom as killers searched for them.
On June 8th, the Atlanta Braves are retiring the jersey of John Smoltz, and naturally when I think John Smoltz, I think about success:
- 21 year major league career
- One of the most beloved men in Atlanta Braves history
- 1995 World Series Champion
- Numerous awards from the Cy Young to the Roberto Clemente
When you talk with John Smoltz, however, it isn’t success he talks about. It’s failure.
He sees failure as:
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The New York Times bestselling author Dan Ariely has a new book, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty. As a fan of his previous books Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality, I was excited to delve into his new area of research. That new area of research is all about dishonesty, and I guarantee you that it will open your eyes.
It’s easy in today’s society to point to others who are unethical or liars. Watch the news and you can’t miss the new corporate scandal or some form of corruption in government.
Dan’s research shows why we may think it’s okay to lie or cheat. It shows how one lie can build into another, and affect others around us. It shows that none of us can claim perfect honesty. The research then shows what we can do to improve honesty for ourselves and our culture.
About Dan Ariely
Dan Ariely is a Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University. He holds two PhDs, one in business administration and the other in cognitive psychology. His work has been featured in numerous publications from The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal. He has also been a keynote speaker for TEDTalks.
What sparked your interest in dishonesty?
I first became interested in dishonesty after Enron. And the basic question that I asked myself at that point was, what’s a better description of the Enron catastrophe—is it that there are a few bad apples who plan and execute and create some terrible, economic devastation, or is it better described by lots of wishful blindness that is created by lots of sort-of good people.
And the reason I thought this is an important question is because dealing with these two very different types of dishonesty is very, very different. If you think that dishonesty is mostly created by bad apples, then you basically want to change hiring procedures and make sure you won’t hire bad apples.