Our current, and outdated, way of thinking about people is broken. Our societal systems assume much about each of us that is, frankly, wrong.
These assumptions stem from a lack of understanding about the true reality of the inner core of human beings. One in particular is very troublesome – for some strange reason we are told that we are “empty glasses” that need to be filled up. Many things can be chosen or thrust upon us to fill us up. The most common of these is education.
The Empty Glass Model and the Educational System
If we were to believe that each of us are empty glasses, then how would this affect the school that we spend a large amount of our lives within? How would this mental model inform the way that we learn? What constraints would be created?
The relationship between our school teachers and ourselves is one is the learned and the others is the learner. There is little to no agreement that the learner is able to contribute anything to the conversation at the start. First, the learner must learn from the learned. Then that person can contribute. This outdated and false mental model on how we learn constricts each of us from contributing to our full potential.
Many times this manifests in school teachers who lecture to us, expect us to memorize copious amounts of data, and then to regurgitate them in the form of exams and essays. This approach does not encourage us to be bold or to act with courage. Unfortunately, this is also done in our place of work with discouraging and disempowered results.
The Empty Glass Model and the Work Environment
If we were to continue to believe this mode of learning and bring it to the workplace, what would occur? What behaviours would we express with our colleagues? How might we limit our views of those that report to us?
It is likely, and common, for us in our workplaces to assume that those around us need us to teach them because “They don’t know any better”. This broken mode of viewing others places great strain and cracks in our relationships and our collective ability to work together as a team. With this view we would likely exhibit behaviours such as: micro-management, asking questions that show that others are wrong or incompetent, and speaking to others that report to us in ways that show belittling and paternalism. It may also limit the way we see them because they are without a certain skill or understanding, and need to be taught.
Is it possible for us to shift this mental model to one that is more in line with the nobility of mankind? If so, how might we take the first step?
Shifting the Mental Model From the Empty Glass to a Mine Rich in Gems
Making this shift can be difficult. We have been taught this outdated and incorrect viewpoint all our lives. To make the shift requires patience, a respect for those around us, and the ability to see the nobility in everyone. With so much competition, wars, political struggles, and degrading structures that assail us into repeating and enforcing this model that we may be unconscious of its effects.
In what circumstances have you witnessed this shift? Do you believe that you can also contribute to this new mental model?
You as a Mine Rich in Gems and the Education System
There are instances and educational systems that have embraced this new model from daycares to spiritual classes, and from private schools to post-secondary educational environments. Once we begin to embrace this new model, then we are able to view our teachers instead as facilitators that create an empowering and motivating environment for us to collaborate, experiment, and challenge the status quo. We see examples of this through the various ways to solve a simple multiplication question to more complex challenges of viewing the world around us. A first step to take is to become aware of our mental model and how we are using it. Once this is done, then we able to take conscious actions to deny its power over us (a second step).
What steps have you taken or seen that embrace this more coherent and empowering mental model?
You as a Mine Rich in Gems and the Work Environment
As you probably know, there is a growing movement in innovative organizations that are changing the way that individuals and teams engage at work and even how they are able to choose what their work day looks like. Some of this innovation and creativity in seen in companies that are embracing the Lean Startup movement, others in the Agile movement, and many others as well. This shift enables leaders to hire individuals that are intelligent and wise, and then (this is the key) to allow them to be intelligent and wise without much oversight or structure.
In what ways have you contributed to this shift at your work? How have your managers embraced this mode and empowered you as an individual that has a collection of abilities, qualities, and skills? What is missing, that you believe that you could add to help your team, department or whole organization become more supportive, unified, and/or empowering?
Some Concluding Remarks
This article is meant to continue my development of my first book to be completed and published in 2018 – creating a learning mode: how to empower and contribute to an environment where learning is not only allowed but strongly supported through deeds and words (draft title concept) . If you have any suggestions on how I can continue to expand it and/or make it more coherent, please leave your comments below.Warm regards,