Sometimes you do something that you aren't aware of, and it hurts you or someone else. A habit, a quirk, an unconscious response. Maybe you make every conversation a conversation about you. Maybe you show more emotion than you intend to. Or you maybe you show less than you think you do.
These are blindspots, and you can fix them with self-awareness and practice.
There are other things that you do, that you know that you do. And these things hurt, without you realizing it. You hold yourself to a high standard. You care deeply about your work. Or you make sure everyone gets a fair shake. These virtues -- excellence, passion and fairness -- can contain hidden vice. These virtues can become sacred cows.
A blindspot is something that you don't know you do, and because of your lack of awareness it hurts you. A sacred cows is something that you know you do, but you don't know it hurts you. A sacred cow is much more dangerous than a blindspot, because it is supported by your deepest beliefs.
You're proud of your sacred cows, so it's tough to change them. If you have children, you've probably shared these things with your kids. These are virtues you embrace as values, learned from a parent, a favorite boss, your culture or your upbringing. Sacred cows are parts of your personality that you think of as being quintessentially you, and you would never question them. Sacred cows are ideas and beliefs that seem beyond reproach.
A blindspot is something you don’t know about. A sacred cow is something you’re wrong about.
I want to share a Change This manifesto on the three sacred cows that are most frequently celebrated but least frequently questioned: excellence, fairness and passion.
Excellence is a sacred cow because of culture. Fairness is a sacred cow because of biology. Passion is a sacred cow because of psychology. I'll share some of the latest, most relevant research on culture, biology and psychology to help people understand the way the virtues contain vice so they can stop the dangerously mindless reverence for these three sacred cows.
Sacred cows are complex, with a dark side and a bright side. I think of them as being more like Batman played by Christian Bale in the recent Dark Knight series of movies – flawed and complex, with great promise yet a dangerously rough edge. Too many people think of sacred cows like excellence, fairness and passion as Batman played by Adam West on the old TV show – a simplistic caricature of perfection.
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About Jake Breeden: | Jake Breeden is the author of Tipping Sacred Cows (Jossey-Bass, March 12, 2013). He teaches as part of the Global Faculty for Duke Corporate Education -- the world's top ranked provider of custom corporate education. He's coached and taught leaders in 27 countries at leading companies, including Google, Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, OppenheimerFunds, Starbucks and Deloitte. He has an MBA from Duke University and lives in Chapel Hill, NC.
Web site: http://www.breedenideas.com