Stealing fire with fire…

The book titled Stealing Fire is all about optimizing human performance. It’s a good one, filled with interesting insights around the science of flow and how to hack into flipping the switch. This one will cause you to pause and make you uncomfortable (at least it did me). Btw, I don’t believe in hacking flow as a habit – not at all. I believe the optimal route to higher performance is found in the original formula formulated by Mihaly (author of Flow). If you want to taste flow, friend, get lost in a great book that blows your mind, fall into a deep conversation with someone you are lost in listening to love, and master your craft through deliberate practice to the point that you don’t have to think – just be. Freakin’ magic. So good and so hard to accomplish. You have to work really hard to achieve flow, friend. Embrace the climb. Yesterday, a team practiced listening to find flow. Few had the stomach (I mean mind) for it.

However, today, I found myself again telling a story from Stealing Fire that has nothing to do with finding flow.

Ellie, one of the military’s most in demand shrinks, is not about optimizing human performance. She’s focused on saving humans performance. You see, Ellie, is focused on reducing PTSD suicides in the military and she’s doing a great job. Ellie is a master at reading the face and body. She doesn’t focus on the words, she reads what’s not being said and tuning into deep signs of sadness. And, she’s getting better results than any other shrinks. Turns out the other doc’s can’t keep from showing their own emotions. Ellie never shows hers. When soldiers are interviewed as to why they revealed so much more to Ellie than the other doc’s, the responses are almost universally around the fact that she doesn’t judge them. We humans play it safe when we feel judged. So, what’s the key to Ellie’s ability to detach?  Well, for starters, she’s not human…

Ellie, you see, is the world’s first artificially intelligent (AI) shrink. Ellie does judge, she just doesn’t show it. We trust her because we feel safer revealing what we’re really thinking when it doesn’t feel like we’re being judged. Leader, there is significant learning here on listening to love, lead, and get out of judger mode. I mean, you do have to draw judgements at some point, but you could learn from Ellie to reserve passing judgement for a later date – like after some educated empathy – after you’ve listened to love, perhaps?

What might you be able to learn about leadership from an AI shrink, friend? Stealing fire with fire – with more love. Go on. Try lighting the match of listening. You won’t get burned, but you and a friend will get lit. Slow down. Reflect. Sit with this one for awhile, friend. You have to earn your degree in educated empathy and it starts with listening to love. Keep working.

Stealing fire with fire. Good…

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