The High Ground
As I’ve been back to school working towards my PhD, there are moments in my studies that cause me to stop in my tracks. These mind-blowing “whoa” moments happen when a concept really hits home. I’ll be reading a scientific study, theory, or case study and suddenly I’ll recognize myself (or my businesses or my fellow studio owners) and think AHA! This totally makes sense!
Recently, one of these concepts had to do with executive functioning, otherwise known as the way humans manage their thinking—the way we plan, focus attention, control impulses, and more. The concept was about the way people grow as strategic leaders. We can learn to deliberately work from the “high ground” using our executive functioning, or we can work more reactively from the “low ground.”
Here are the textbook definitions:
The High Ground
A pattern of mental activity invoked when you make decisions based on long-term viability: gaining awareness by mentalizing about others and yourself
The Low Ground
A pattern of mental activity invoked when you make decisions based on expedience and immediate problem solving: giving people (including yourself) what they want
(Source: Jeffrey Schwartz, Josie Thomson, Art Kleiner, and Wise Advocate Enterprises)
What stood out to me in this information was that it was such a clear explanation of two ways to operate the mind: deliberate, thoughtful, planned work and quick, emotionally-driven, need-based work. And not all work can fall neatly into one category! Sometimes it’s necessary to use our low ground thinking. But as our leadership grows and strengthens, it becomes even more important to use our high ground thinking—and we can appreciate just how effective it is at accomplishing our goals.
So, here’s some food for thought: are you working from the high ground or the low ground of your mind? How can you work more from the high ground? In what ways are you deliberately, proactively planning ahead, making thoughtful decisions, and stretching your cognitive flexibility?
I encourage you to talk through this concept with your leadership team, too—even if that team consists of just one or two other people at your studio. Some roles in your business need to have quick functioning from the whirlwind of the low ground. Some of your people might need guidance about how to use their high ground thinking more often. No matter what, progress can be made by simply paying attention to what kind of thinking is at play!
To your growth as a leader!