The insidious power of a mindset

It's not my fault that your information doesn't go into my thinking, right?

It's not my fault that your information doesn't go into my thinking, right?

"Did I miss you? Were you there?" 

It all flashed before me as I read the incriminating email on my phone late last night.

A few days ago, a good friend invited me to a special sit-down event to honor people making a difference in our community. I was very honored by the invitation, responded positively, put it on my calendar for Wednesday, and at our family meeting Sunday evening I rearranged some other commitments to be able to attend. I even set out some nice clothes to be ready.

Tuesday afternoon he sent me an email with a different location for the event. I checked my calendar to make sure of the date, updated the appointment, and replied with "Got it - thanks and will see you there soon :o)" Wow, I thought, he is really on top of things to give me a heads-up a day early! Of course in my "soon" I meant later in the week. I'm certain he read it differently.

Until I got his message Tuesday evening - after the event - I didn't realize I had a nasty case of confirmation bias. That is, I interpreted all the inputs through my own firm belief that I had the event on the right day - without even realizing I was doing so. 

My small mistake mushroomed quickly into something completely unintended -  a potential communication of disrespect and abandonment of my friend and his gift.

The good news is that - besides reconciling with my friend - having this mistake on my mind since yesterday has given me a deeper set of questions:

Chris Hutchinson, CEO

Chris Hutchinson, CEO

If my mindset about something as small as when an event occurs could impact me and others in a pretty big way, what other biases do I have that I don't even know about that are potentially impacting my life and others? How will I know that I'm missing important information because of assumptions I don't even realize I've made? Am I letting important information spill outside my mental cup? 

How do you think confirmation bias might be sneaking up on you? 

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Chris Hutchinson

As CEO of Trebuchet Group, Chris Hutchinson thrives working with clients and his team to improve organizational clarity, teamwork, and leadership impact.

After years of building Legos® and tree houses around the world, Chris earned his Mechanical Engineering degree and followed that with an MBA. His experiences in the military and the business world taught him great leadership can be learned, and everyone is in some way a leader.

Clients and peers describe him as an inspirational catalyst for positive change. He is the author of Ripple - A Field Manual for Leadership That Works.

Chris and his wife live, garden, and bike in Fort Collins, Colorado, and have four children. He has an unrequited love affair with brownies.