Leadership and Self-Deception | Institute Arbinger Institute

Summary of: Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box
By: Institute Arbinger Institute


Dive into the insightful world of ‘Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box’ by the Arbinger Institute and discover how self-deception unconsciously leads to a distorted view of ourselves, undermining our relationships and productivity. This book summary presents the ways self-deception affects our perception of others, our motivation and priorities, and how it can spread like a virus within a group. Learn to identify and break free from self-deception by continually questioning our sense of superiority and embracing our instincts to help and respect others.

The Deception of Self

The concept of treating others with respect and dignity is deeply ingrained in our society’s values and legislative framework. However, in our daily lives, we often prioritize our own desires over those of others, leading to a lack of empathy and self-deception. This self-deception leads us to view others as objects and threats to our own comfort, preventing us from seeing them as “real” people with comparable needs. To escape this box of self-deception, we must acknowledge and work to dismantle our superiority complex, putting ourselves in the shoes of others. By doing so, we can break free from the box and begin treating others with the respect and dignity they deserve.

The Harmful Cycle of Self-Deception

Inflating our own virtues while magnifying others’ flaws, a vicious cycle of self-deception, harms us and distorts our worldview. This skewed perspective leads to blaming others, creating a need for self-justification by finding excuses and reasons to support our beliefs. When this distorted worldview meets with reality, it collapses, and we continue to deceive ourselves to maintain the status quo. For instance, during an argument with a spouse about vacation preferences, a self-deceived person will consider their own wishes more important than their partner’s and see their behavior as more reasonable. They will blame their spouse for the argument and not notice their flawed reasoning due to self-aggrandizement. To stop this cycle of self-deception, we must recognize the distorted worldview, challenge it with reality, and avoid inflating our own importance.

The Power of Underlying Feelings

Our behavior towards others doesn’t solely determine how they see us, but rather our underlying feelings do. Our intuition allows us to perceive authentic emotions, which affects how we respond to people’s actions. Whether we’re acting kindly or assertively, our actions can still be fueled by feelings of superiority, leading to self-deception. Genuine relationships are built on equality, not superiority. This means that how we perceive others isn’t based on their actions but rather their genuine emotions towards us.

Self-Deception: The Obstacle to Success

Self-deception prevents us from achieving our goals and negatively affects our relationships. Our distorted worldview makes us focus on justifying ourselves rather than achieving success. At work, we may undermine our colleagues to justify our own superiority, neglecting the company’s objectives. Likewise, at home, seeking faults in others to confirm our negative views of them leads us to engage in counterproductive behaviors. Our self-justification also stunts our personal growth, hindering our ability to learn. Thus, self-deception becomes a major obstacle to success.

Self-Deception: A Vicious Cycle

Our self-deception affects those around us as it spreads like a virus. When we interact with others, blaming them due to our self-deception can make them feel unfairly treated. This leads to a cycle of mutual mistreatment. For instance, in a relationship, continually focusing on blaming the partner overlooks one’s faults. This behavior will lead the partner to blame us, who shift the focus on their faults. Consequently, self-deception is contagious, like an infection passed on through contact. Thus, it is essential to know how and why self-deception happens, as it causes significant harm to us and others.

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