Leadership and Self-Deception is a book on how our self-centered and self-aggrandizing tendencies can eradicate our natural empathy and kindness and ruin our relationships.
- We are in the box when we consider our own needs as superior to others
- People can feel when we are in the box, even when we fake kindness
- To stay out of the box you must act on your natural instincts of empathy and caring
Self Centered Box Thinking
The author talks about self-centered self deception, which they call “being in the box”.
We self deceive ourselves when we see other people’s needs as less important than our own. We may consider them as simple nuisances to our well being and see them as objects.
We’re Great – They’re Flawed
Another consequence of box thinking is to inflate our own qualities and to magnify other’s weaknesses.
The main issue of this distorted worldview is that of blaming others instead of looking at our own contributions.
Fake Out of the Box
Sometimes we still harbor negative feelings about the people around but we externally manifest positive feelings and nice behavior.
That’s because people can perceive our real feelings.
No matter what we do on the outside, people respond to how we feel on the inside
My note: this was the part I liked the most and agree with the most.
Self-fulfilling Box Thinking
Our box thinking can feed on itself on a vicious circle. For example if we feel we are superior and more knowledgeable than the people around, we will block off new information.
And if we feel somebody is sneaky, we might force in them that exact behavior simply to confirm our own self deception.
We treat them as sneaky, they answer with more negative behavior and there goes the vicious circle.
Self Deception Starts With Self Betrayal
The author says we are naturally social people and we naturally feel empathy.
But sometimes we betray ourselves by not following our natural instinct of caring for the people around. That’s the first step towards self deception.
Since you acted incongruent with who you are, now you need to change your world view to accommodate your new action. And you start seeing yourself as a self-centered person, and you will start acting more and more like a self-centered person.
Now you’re in the box.
Staying Out of the Box
To stay out of the box, you must keep honoring your instinctive natural feelings of caring.
My Note: I wonder how does the author know that the natural instincts will be positive.
Real Life Applications
See Yourself as You Really Are
If I had to derive one teaching from this book, would be to look at reality how it really is and avoiding
As Ray Dalio says in Principles: love reality.
Stop Blaming Ohters
This is a natural reflection for many of us. Resist that temptation. And since you’re there, develop a mindset of Extreme Ownership to greatly benefit your life.
Complicates concepts instead of simplifying them
The book takes concepts which could be easy and makes them sound complicated by making a new category for them (out of the box or in the box).
I find bigger virtue in taking the complex and making it simple.
New category for old (and disparate) concepts
This is a technique people sometimes use to sound more authoritative, to simply things (not in this case) or to repackage information in a way that it seems new insight.
I personally find that the book puts too many and disparate human tendencies into this box they talk about.
Self-centeredness is natural
I feel sometimes the author makes a convoluted story to explain what’s simply natural in human beings. It’s only normal indeed that most of us put our own well being first.
Trying to paint humans’ natural Self-centeredness as misplaced does not help. We should talk about ways to use and channel our natural inclinations for the greater good instead, not demonizing them.
Natural instinct is caring?
I don’t particularly like black and white thinking, and at times it feels to me that Leadership and Self Deception falls into this worldview.
For example, when they say they encourage to follow our natural instinct of being kind and helpful, that’s black and white thinking to me.
As complex as that might be, we have both aggressive and nurturing instincts which co-exist.
Good idea to “step outside ourselves”
I liked the idea of “stepping outside ourselves” and to view and consider people as people. It can be helpful for many of us, in many situations.
Wake up call
Leadership and Self Deception could be a great wake up call for many who view themselves as superior to others.
Leadership and Self Deception didn’t resonate with me. I found it simplistic in its blanket rule approach of “we are all hardwired to be nice”.
But it can be good for people with a superiority complex or people who lack empathy.
It has plenty of great reviews though, so maybe you will find it helpful for you.