Catch Yourself Before Slipping Into Default
Ivey Business Journal
People are wired to respond to similar situations and stimuli in pre-set ways without realizing it. With limited brain power at our disposal, we create standard operating procedures and habits to keep mental bandwidth free to handle complex tasks. Subconsciously setting defaults likely cannot be avoided. In fact, it is often desirable — otherwise, our brains would be drained in trying to meet daily responsibilities. However, it is harmful to fall victim to one’s default settings, which happens when autopilot behaviours run counter to what we would do if we were controlled by our conscious mind. Three common casualties of slipping into default are discretion, objectivity and moderation. After observing many leaders who effectively manage their default settings, the author suggests the following steps: a) awareness — understanding that we all have defaults and the potential for unwanted actions can prompt reflection that leads to corrective actions; b) always be on the lookout; c) seek feedback — create a network of trusted people empowered to provide feedback; d) log defaults — keep a record of your slippages into default to assist in the development of insights that help you recognize triggers; and e) check expiration dates — nothing stays relevant forever, so use a default log to rethink your standard operating procedures.
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