Most of the classes that I have taken in my entire college life have tried to teach me something related with my career. Most of these classes were math, science or business oriented. Never before I took a class that teach me to learn how I think, what I think, and why I think in a particularly way. In this class a learned one lesson that will last for the rest of my life: learn to be conscious of the action that I take. At the beginning of the semester, I felt a little bit frustrated because I spent a big part of my day thinking about the things that I learned in class, how I can apply those thing in my life and that if I would learned those lesson before my life would be completely different. Throughout this self assessment paper I would try to address how the different topics that I learned in class impact my life using current and past experiences.
The fist topic that we talked in class was the personal transformation article and the three dysfunctions of our culture: Fragmentation, Competition and reactiveness. Concerning to fragmentation I am the type of person that tend to break everything into small pieces because I think it is easier to understand them in that way. However, sometime I feel empty because I cannot put all the parts together and understand the whole system. I think this is a problem because in schools a leaned a lot of individual concepts but I never learn how to put them together. I plan to build strengths to use this tool by every time that I learn something I will try to connected with something that I learned in the past. Ask to myself how I can use these new concepts and how to apply to my life. I think that if I do the connection immediately in my head I will be able to star creating mental maps with all the concepts connected together.
For me competition is like a game: sometime when we do not compete we get better result than when we do, sometimes when we compete we do not the results that we want, or sometime competing or not we get the same results. It is like an eternal battle in which the luckiest survive. Notice that I said that the luckiest survive and not the strongest and this is because sometimes being the strongest does not guarantee that you will be ahead the others. Concerning to reactiveness I think that I am a person very sentimental when I react to some situations, I am the type of person that does not like bad news. So, I try to react like that never happened. But in the end the reality is that I have to react like a grown man and confront the reality.
I got that my personality type was Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging (ISTJ). I really think that these results really describe my personality because I consider myself as a responsible, loyal, contemplative and independent individual. However, I have learned that I need some of the characteristics of the other personality types. I recognize that I need more people skills if I want to be successful in my MBA career. I think it won’t hurt me if I try to be more sociable with the people around me. For example, I need to be a little bit more extroverts, more sociable, more perceptive, be open to new things, being more flexible. One thing that I can do to archive this is to learn to listen to the other, to learn that everybody is different and has different opinions and that I cannot win every argument. I apply this at the beginning of the semester and the final results are awesome: I talk to more people in the classroom, on the bus, at the library, practically everywhere. I recognized that I need to be a more flexible with the things that I do. I recognized that nobody thinks exactly like me, so we can have differences and still work together. Also, I learned how to adapt to changing situations; to recognize that the world is dynamic, not static and that people will never act like me.
I think one of the most important lessons that I learned in this class was to identify my mental models and to be aware that I have them. I start the class being a unconscious incompetence and I think I end up being almost a conscious competence For me it was extremely important to be right. It was like an interior force that gives a shot of adrenaline when I can prove to others that I am right and they are wrong. I was a perfectly example of my mental model. However, after reflecting about this matter I reached to the conclusion that sometimes it is better to be wrong and don’t have the experience that some people reject to talk to me because they portray me as an arrogant, bigheaded and selfish person. Now I realize that it is good the fact that my friends had different points of view, that it is right that we don’t think in the same ways, that I have to love them in the way that they are. Now I understand the phrase that says “a real friend is not the one that makes you laugh with lies, it is the one that makes you cry with the truth”.
Another important tool that I learned in this class was to identify when people use defensive routine to protect themselves. I learned that I also used defensive routines when I behaved inappropriate or when I did not complete an assignment on time. I usually, well almost all the time, went to the offensive, labeling people with stereotypes. I constantly used advocacy to defend and justify my actions. However, once I learned that these defensive routines were part of my mental model, I started to listen more to what the other person have to say. I discovered that if I put myself in their position I can understand they point of view better. Also, I learned to pay real attention to my interlocutors, to listen with my brain, not only with my ears. The results were amazing, once I start to be an active listener the conversation became more professional, more productive and barriers to reach for an agreement start to plunge. Also, becoming an active listener helps me to manage difficult conversations. I remember that I was the type of person that starts arguing with somebody very easily. Three out four conversations ended up in a discussion and usually a bad one. However, because I learned to listen and think before emitting my opinion help to manage difficult conversation at such level that I don’t remember the last conversation that ended up with a discussion. It is wonderful being able to communicate with other in a respectful way. We have to be willing to give, share and receive. The trick is in considering that the other person is at the same level than I.
I developed my inquiry skills asking as many questions as I needed until I was completely sure that I understood what others were asking for. I have notice that when I used these techniques I can understand their position clearly because I can get a clear idea of their thinking. However, I think I have very poor advocacy skills. Sometimes it is very difficult for me to explain to others what I am thinking, what are my points of views, what is my reasoning. In my opinion the problem is that I cannot decide which information I should give them in order to understand my way of thinking. Sometimes I give them too much information; sometimes too little. Then I spent most of the time trying to explain to them what is in my mind. I get frustrated because things that see like obvious then cannot recognize them, I wish they can go inside my brain, read my mind, and see how obvious everything is. Honestly, I think I have poor advocacy skills because English is not my first language. When I talk to somebody in English I tend to ask extra question to make sure that I understand one hundred percent what they are trying to say. Also, because my English vocabulary is very limited I tend to explain things in the simplest way, leaving out important information, or adding irrelevant information just because I do not have the right word to use. When this happen I get frustrate and everything in my head get mess up and I start to talk in Spanish without noticing it and confusing even more my interlocutor. I think that if a become a little more extrovert I can socialize with more people and my vocabulary can be expanded with new English words and slangs that I can use to communicate more effective when I advocate my points of view.
Another tool that has helped me to be a better advocate is the latter of inference. Using this tool I became more aware of the conclusions that I made and the basis of those conclusions. I had learned that if I put too much emotional attachments to my ideas I usually exclude important data or information that even though do not support my believes can help me to make better decisions. Therefore, know before making any conclusions I try identify any emotional feelings that can be attached to those decisions and leave them out. Also, I have find out that it is impossible to overcome an emotional position with a logical argument (Shingo). The ladder of inference has been of great help when making decision because it forces me to think through my own arguments allowing me to determine errors in my own thinking. Now I am aware that I may be ignoring important data or making wrong assumptions or inferences. Thanks to the ladder of inference, now before making any important decision the first two questions that I ask to myself are: does the fact that I have represents the truth and what role does my emotions and feelings play in my decisions.
Casual Loop Diagrams are a great to help us to clarify our own thinking and help others to understand us better. I wish I could do a CLD for every part of life but I feel I am not good doing one by myself. I have difficulty identifying what things I should put on the CLD and how those things interact with each other. When doing a CLD I often tend to do inferential leaps, miss previous steps or use ambiguous link or blocks. I remember that in class we discussed that the whole idea of a CLD is to figure out how the actions work their way through the loop, back to the initial link (beginning). However, I think that the whole idea is to see how everything is connected and how one action affects the whole situation. I would love to learn to master CLD and be able to use to diagram my mental models, clarify my own thinking and understand other people thinking. I should try to get more practice doing more CLD for simple life problems in order to be able to master this technique. For example, with a CLD I can show how spending three hours talking to my girlfriend complicate my whole day; it can explain why I am always tired and sleepy.
Something that can really help me to master CLDs will be to develop a structured decision making process in order to organize my ideas better and identify the pieces needed to join the empty spaces. Most of the time, I feel I need to make the decision fast and I don’t have enough time for a formal structure and process. Sometimes I feel the contrary, I have spent too much time thinking over the same problem that I fell I need to make a decision and take a break. The problem is that at the end my decisions are based on gut feeling instinct rather than a structured process. Something that I should take as a habit is to gather enough data so I can support the decision that I make. In other words I should climb down the ladder of inference and gather the proper data to make an informed decision. The first and probably the most important thing that I should do before making any decision should be “establish a context for success”. This is the part where I identify the problem and define the objective that I want to accomplish. I think that this step it is also the most difficult because most of the time I don’t know what is the real problem. I just know that I have a “problem” and I need a “solution” for that problem. Also, I should gather enough data and resources before making any important decision; generate as many alternatives as I can, evaluate those alternatives, and finally choose the one that fits my requirements better. I want to learn to use this tool because I am pretty sure that I will be using this method very often in my future career life. Having a structure decision making process can give me a competitive edge among my coworkers because my decision will be more logic and back it up with data that support my actions.
Frame the issue “properly” is another tool that I could used to develop a structured decision making process. However, I don’t feel I know how to master this tool. For me it is a little difficult to express my point of view to others. I am good identifying when other use framing over me but I cannot used very effectively over them or in the way that I wanted. Framing is about making other people to see what you want them to see, but sometimes I get the opposite reaction: people see what I don’t want them to see. I get frustrate and mess up when this happen. I say that framing is a key step for success because people who understand framing and its power can manipulate others to do their will. The best examples of this are the people who make commercials and advertisements. They can convince us to buy products that we don’t need or want. They create a false sense of need inside our subconscious that induces us to buy the last laptop model even though our actual model is working fine. They are like brain doctors that with words can modify our thoughts and make us buy anything that they want. One thing I can do to get better framing my thoughts would be to use my emotions. I should show to other how passionate I am for the think that I want to convince them. Also I could use visual help (graphs, equations, charts) to better communicating my points of view.
First of all I want to argue that the world is full of uncertainties, our life is full of uncertainty, our future is uncertain, and our present is kind of uncertain. Only the past is certain and that is because we already know the answer of what already happened. I said that the world is full of uncertainty because you cannot determine what will happen next, where the next earthquake will be, or the next tornado, or the next flood. We just know that these natural phenomenon will, possibly, happen someday in someplace around the world. Our life is uncertain because you don’t know what will happen with your life in your future: are you going to be hit by a car, are you going to win the lottery, are you going to have died before your fifty birthday, or are you going to be rich and successful.
I think that I cannot escape from the uncertainties of my life or the uncertainties of the world. However, I can get prepared so when they arrive I can fight them with the right tools. For example, I don’t know where the next tornado will be, but I can buy a house with a basement that can protect my family from a level 5 tornado. I don’t know which part of the world will be shaken by an earthquake but I can get educated about what to do when an earthquake happens. Also, I don’t know if I will win the lottery but I can get the best possible education so I won’t need to win the lottery to be rich. I don’t know if I will have died before my fifty birthday but I can make sure that I enjoy every day of my life, doing the right things, serving others in such a way that if I died tomorrow I will die happy with a smile on my face.
In every moment of my life I make decisions; I decide if I go to college, if I buy a new pair of jeans, at what time I eat, or at what time I go to bed. The problem is not to decide what or when to do or not something, the real issues is what will be the results of those decisions. And this gets more complicated when there are uncertainties behind those decisions that sometimes we cannot even identify. The final result of this type of situations is that we end up making bad decisions that could be avoided. I think it is not difficult to learn how to identify the uncertainties of our decisions. I think we can learn what things we did wrong and the next time that we have a similar situation we can do the right thing. Also we can learn to identify and prioritize the areas of uncertainties in our decisions and reduce the one that can be reduced.
Creative thinking has been a topic that has caught my attention since I was in high school. I always had wanted to be creative but most of the time I feel I don’t have the right material. Most of the times when I have to come out with a creative solution I always choose the one that the majority chose. I try to think “out the box” but I ended up thinking and doing the same thing than the others. When this happen, I get frustrate because I want to be an innovator creating new and amazing things. I think the problem is that I love to do new things if there are clear and specific rules. I like to follow the rules and I want that the other follow the same rules to. However, I have learned that sometime you have to ignore the rules in order to be creative, try to do things different than the way that I usually do them. I think I have to stop trying to figure out what other people will do and try to be original, unique, and different.
Last week I tried to apply the step that the professor mentioned in class about how to be more creative. The results were amazing because I actually came out with solutions that nobody in the room did. I think the trick is to pay attention to details, especially to minor details (like the background). The provocation part also helped a lot to identify atypical response. I thought in characters like Homer Simpson or Sheldon Cooper (the big band theory) to come out with alternative that were creative. From now on, I will start to apply the creativity three steps process (observe, provocation, and movement) more often to incentive my creativity. I think they really work.