An article I read about the President said that his behavior was totally consistent with someone who had a background in reality television – his goal was to always keep the red light on. (The red light is an indicator that that camera is the active one being shown on the screen.) If you view volatile behavior through that lens it isn’t randomly erratic; it is calculated to achieve the desired results.

I used to preach a similar message when I worked on campus: there were decisions made to block people out of the conversation, to restrict innovation or to shape a class through scholarships, but like the policies or not, they were doing exactly as they were intended to do.

Systems follow the same logic and produce the results they are designed to produce. The criminal justice system was set up in favor of white men. The child welfare system was created to address physical safety without taking emotional safety into consideration. Schools were set up to instill facts and behaviors to benefit work in the industrial age.

Whether consciously or not, your own behaviors are working toward achieving the mental model that you have designed for yourself. Think carefully about the outcome you desire or all your actions will align to unintentionally, but inevitably, produce something else.


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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