Saturday, January 30, 2010
THE DINOSAUR MENTALITY ON STEROIDS
This unusual post has been prompted by a recent event in my life, during which I have been dragged out of semi-retirement by my good friend, Dilip Mukerjea, to help him helm a project presentation to a bunch of supposedly intelligent professionals, who somehow acted so dumb.
The incident brought me into a seemingly confrontational encounter with one of the aforesaid professionals, who apparently reminded me of my past experiences in the corporate world.
I like to call it the dinosaur mentality, but this one was running on steroids.
Dinosaurs were supposed to have died 65 million years ago following a massive asteroid collision, but that didn't stop creative movie producers from coming out with celluloid dinosaurs.
I am referring to the wonderful trilogy of Jurassic Park movies, plus Godzilla, & not forgetting the earlier versions from Japan. They were my personal favourites as a movie buff.
Interestingly, as a teenager growing up with pains during the sixties, I was often mesmerised by the Flintstones animated television series, especially the hero Fred Flintstone, who often had to grapple with havoc created by his pet dino.
Naturally, I had also watched the two great Flintstones movies.
Back to the 21st century, especially to the aforesaid incident. Dilip & I had to face the crappy humanoid dinosaur.
Because of my desire to understand the science of irrationality, I went back to dig up some of my library books.
The first book that fell into my hands was clinical psychologist Dr Albert Bernstein's 'Dinosaur Brains: Dealing with All Those Impossible People at Work', which I had read during the late eighties.
At that time, I was a General Manager of a technology firm. I was attracted by one particular blurb from the book, "The key to thriving in the corporate jungle is understanding dinosaurs."
The findings from Dr Bernstein were fascinating:
- the humanoid dinosaurs are responsible people who act out unconscious fantasies of the primeval jungle;
- their principal default setting - in other words, primitive thought pattern - is called lizard logic;
- they prefer to work in crisis mode;
- they always try to gain dominance by blind aggressiveness;
- they delight in making other people look stupid & they always have the last word;
- worst still, they think that what they are doing makes perfectly good sense;
Gee Wiz! Dr Bernstein was right on the ball. The illustrative characteristics were manifested right in front of my eyes via the aforesaid gentleman.
By the way, Dr Bernstein had even narrowed down his 7 coping strategies in dealing with lizard logic.
Other books that had appeared in my quick foraging included:
- 'The Dinosaur Strain', by corporate consultant Mark Brown - this one is more about disempowering mindsets & how to reset them;
- 'Mean Markets & Lizard Brain: How to Profit from the New Science of Irrationality', by Professor Terry Burnham - this one explains why lizard logic often screws up our money making initiatives;
- 'Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions', by Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at MIT - it's worth reading, especially for understanding human behaviour better;
- 'Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness ', by Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein, both professors - this one is quite an interesting read, even though it is tied to behavioural economics of the American scenario;
Nonetheless, there is one consensus or rather common denominator from all these books:
Our brain is divided into two operating parts:
- the executive brain, where rationality & logic prevails;
- the lizard brain, so to speak, responding more to emotions, present needs, pleasure, temptations, instincts, & pain avoidance;
Sad to say, we continue to share part of our brain with our cold-blooded cousins, & evidence from the above experts had proven that we have very little control over it.
We just have to live with it.
I certainly like what maverick guru Seth Godin has recently exhorted, while launching his new book, 'Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?':
"You don't need to be more creative. All of you are actually too creative. What you need is a quieter lizard brain.
The genius part is getting the lizard brain to shut up long enough to overcome the resistance."
His contention is that our lizard brain is the source of resistance.
For many of us, I reckon this tactical approach is quite an easy thing to do, but for that particular gentleman, regrettably, I don't think so, because Dilip & I also had an earlier but unexpected encounter with him several weeks ago. For a man of his standing, his negative thoughts were horrendous.
I really feel sorry for all the people who have to work & live unwittingly at the mercy of his mesozoic logic & disconnected behaviour.