Author James Clear shared the following observation in his newsletter: “You know yourself mostly by your thoughts. Everyone else in the world knows you only by your actions.”

It reminded me of a lesson by Patrick Lencioni describing the Fundamental Attribution Error – we attribute other people’s behaviors to their character (internal attribution) whereas we claim the environment impacts our own actions (external attribution). Lencioni gives the example of a dad harshly scolding his kids in the store – we think that he is a mean, angry man – but when we do the same thing, we justify it because we have unruly children.

As Clear says, we know ourselves by understanding the rationale behind our behaviors, but others only see the external result. If we feel misunderstood, we need to translate our thoughts into verbal communication or explicit actions that others can see.

How can you develop congruency between what you are thinking and how you are acting to avoid an observable gap? You need to be giving the behavioral cues that help others know you rather than guessing about you. As many in relationships have lamented: “I’m not a mind reader.” Neither are those around you.

James Clear’s 3-2-1 Newsletter 8-29-19
Patrick Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions of a Team video


I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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