Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 7: Human Nature and Expectations

As always, these summaries represent only my limited viewpoint. This week, I was extremely limited as you will see.

The session began with Roger asking if anyone was interested in running the class for the day. Sean volunteered. He shared that he has been thinking about human nature and how it affects teaming and collaboration.  He invited people to offer their thoughts in response to his question.

So the question was, "What is human nature and how does it affect teaming?"

Where this question hung me up is that I have been wondering what "humans" are.  So I was stuck in thinking, "what is the nature of humans?"  My thinking has been strongly influenced by Jill Bolte Taylor's book, "My Stroke of Insight," where she recounts her experience of losing the functionality of the left hemisphere of her brain. She describes experiencing "reality" through her right hemisphere.  You can hear her talk about it in this TED talk (in my opinion, entirely worth the 20 minutes it takes to hear it).

She describes that through perceiving the world with only her right brain, she was unable to differentiate her "self" from, for example, "the wall." "Reality" had an entirely different appearance to her through her right brain--it was more "whole" and "one." Her experience really made me wonder if what we perceive to be separate "human beings" is actually an artifact of our perceptual limits...could we be in fact "one" with one another and the universe.  Yes, corny, I know, but it made me wonder about the limits of our perception and to what extent we create our apparent separateness through our left-brained thinking.

People said many things, but alas, I am not able to recall a single one, as I was so caught up by my own confusion about the nature of humans.

The next question posed by Sean was "How do expectations influence teaming and collaboration?"

At some point, Pete shared his experience of the workshop and how its "non-ending" was unsettling for him.  He requested that we have a kind of close.  Roger then pointed out that he had an expectation for something different than what we were doing. Pete said he wasn't aware having an expectation. Roger pointed out that in the absence of an expectation, one can't really be disappointed in the outcome. [Note: Although Roger has been saying this all along, it was very clear to me that my own disappointment/frustration/irritation can simply serve as a flag to indicate that I have a hidden expectation.].

Roger linked the two questions of the day (expectations/human nature) together by stating that how we deal with unmet expectations would be very different, depending on our view of human nature. If we assumed humans as naturally separate, one would view different expectations as arising from our separate condition. In the face of disappointment between humans, we would then need to "do something" to bring the separate beings together. What would we do?

If we began with an assumption that humans have a "prior unity," that our condition of apparent separateness then comes from the way in which we are thinking/perceiving, ...well, you'd do something different in the face of conflict. Maybe you'd stop doing something rather than taking action.

By the way, what ARE expectations?  Where do they come from?

Our homework:
"How do expectations and human nature influence teaming?"   Roger added that we should also notice and report what our strategies are when our expectations are not met.

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