Self-Fulfilling

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“Suspicion often creates what it suspects.”

–  from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (1898 – 1963), British born writer and theologian

Motivational speakers often talk about self-fulfilling prophecies, and I suppose that’s for good reason.  Positive self-talk is a good brick to place in our foundation.

Self-fulfilling suspicion?  Not so much.

If we’re still tracking vacation, maybe we’re not hiring well enough.  If, in this work-from-home time, we’re tracking logins and logoffs and time online and hours worked and stuff like that, maybe we’re not hiring well enough.  Likely, we’re not leading.  We might be “in charge,” and suspicious, but that ain’t leadership.  The time invested in not trusting a team is wasted time that we can never get back.

I’ve been blessed most of the way with leaders and mentors in my career who have trusted their teams, and their trust in us fostered us to trust ours.  The whole business was dominated by trust, which led to more engagement, more camaraderie, and, accordingly, those teams accomplished amazing things.  In a few places, however, when I see a culture where suspicion is the driving factor, I wonder why those in charge are shocked when their teams don’t trust them.  Suspicion leads to blame and blame is a sucker’s bet.

C. S. Lewis’ book “The Screwtape Letters” is a series of notes from Uncle Screwtape, one of Satan’s right-hand minions, to his nephew, Wormwood, a field agent in the force of evil.  The context for today’s quote is that the evil-doers are tempting one of us to be suspicious, to create the outcome that we don’t want.

Suspicion often creates what we expect, yes.  That’s true.  So does trust.  So does love.  So does accountability.  So does the freedom to make mistakes as long as we learn from them.

What’s the point?  If we’re going to choose a self-fulfilling prophecy, why not choose from the list that ends with happy outcomes?  Why not make sure we know what our culture is, instead of telling our teams what we think it ought to be?

If those in charge think the culture is great, it might be.  If the people in the game closest to the action say the culture is ________, THAT’s what the culture is.  And there’s no place in culture for suspicion.

Hire better.  Trust more.  Expect more and remove obstacles.  Lead!

It’s drive Screwtape and Wormwood absolutely nuts, and it’ll drive your business to levels you barely dare to dream.

 

 


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Comments

  1. Thomas Miller says

    Love it! Couldn’t agree more. I’m currently hiring three key positions – I’ll make sure to follow this advice. Hope everyone is happy and healthy!

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