Fundamental Attribution Error?

What you see is often not what you get! I’m a believer in Blink and other books that encourage your intuitive nature to pick up who you are working with and make decisions based on your gut. In fact most of my business life I’ve worked from an entrepreneurial spirit seated in this part of me.  It’s led me to some success, and some dynamic failures! Without this spirit I doubt I would have got far. Classic MBA business would have spat me out. From their perspective of ability to do financials, strategic plans, and structural organizational charts - I am still poor. Their ‘blink’ on me would have been ‘weak and lacking’. I simply didn’t fit business, and they were right. But two incidents gave me some courage to go by ‘what I had’.

The first was going to the 21st reunion of my dental class. By then I had left dentistry for 14 years – I was the only one that had. (I was also the only one with kids over 2yrs old - mine were mid teens). They asked me to speak on ‘leaving dentistry’ and I remember being awful. Worse still they all seemed so well off and so clever. But the highlight was during my drivel of a talk, the then, senior dentist in the UK saying loudly ‘my xxx he’s worth more than any of us’!

Later, I reveived an invitation to speak to the MBA graduate class at Warwick business school. I thought my drivel might have improved, so accepted. The night before speaking I found my audience averaged 3 languages and 2 degrees per head. Scared, I still turned up as they finished a workshop on share issues and buyouts.  Stuff I didn’t even know about. Then I was ‘on’. I still can’t remember what I said but it was all about practical business, making money and dealing with people – I got a standing ovation! A month later a man I really respected rang me. He had just been their speaker ‘Simon,’ he said ‘ you are a very hard act to follow’.

What you see is not what you always get. We assume that the geek that is programming for us is slow and a ‘difficult’ person, when he is just struggling with a bad mouse we gave him. That the sales person can’t sell when we only give her 2 minutes of our day to understand the product IP we only know. And that manager sitting in the closed office is a snob when they suffer from acute fear of new situations.  Or of course that longhaired ‘intuitive guy’ is flimsy.

We all make Fundamental Attribution Errors because of our knowledge, our pre filters and our positional thinking. So we miss the gems, the opportunities and the better part of life.  We all do it unless we are prepared to look again, to change and perhaps listen long enough to embrace some re thinking of our position. Scary, but without it in the new globe there may be little room for you.

My current journey includes beginning to enjoy all those ‘MBA parts’ of business life, because I’ve changed a little, and I’ve been prepared to not do the FAE stuff even when my intuition is saying ‘no’ - because, guess what, it could be wrong!