Tony Dye

Tony Dye




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Leadership and Self-Deception

My summary:

This book was first released around 2000, and is now in its third edition with over 2 million copies sold as of 2018. It’s considered a business book, but in so many ways, it’s a relationship book that can be applied to all parts of life. I know I’ve read it at least four times. My current re-reading is inspiring me to change the way I read, take notes, and reflect on those notes. I would highly recommend this book and I’ll gladly find a way to interact with you if you want to read it. I will be posting my chapter-by-chapter notes here on my blog, with the #LaSD tag

Written as a fable, but based on real-world situations of challenges on the job and in the family, and how we often sabotage our own efforts.

A key idea: think of someone you know, boss, co-worker, family member, etc. who’s a little difficult. Because they have “a problem.” You know they have the problem, everyone else knows they have the problem, but that person, somehow, doesn’t know they have the problem. The thing is, we are all ‘that person.’ We all have a problem that everyone else is well aware of, but somehow we don’t see it, or if we do, we strongly resist it.

The other key idea is about how we perceive other people. They can be other people, just like you and me, with cares, and concerns, and yes, problems. OR, they can just be problems — objects — that are in the way of what we are trying to do. How you think of people makes all the difference.

Concept that will be mentioned often: “being in the box”

“Way of thinking” is used several places in this book. Later books from Arbinger chose the more popular word, “mindset.” In particular, the idea of having an inward mindset, or an outward mindset, with The Outward Mindset being the name of the third book by Arbinger.

Fascinating to me is how this book (a little) and the follow-up book, Anatomy of Peace, have various references to Arab/Israeli conflicts, recent and past. Some new history lessons for me that I sure don’t remember from school!

Main Characters:

Tom. The main character in the story, the “I” speaker (first person), and narrator

Bud. Tom’s new boss, and the key of “The Bud Meeting.” High level management in the Zagrum company

Lou. Former president of Zagrum, the originator of many of the ideas in the book, still participates sometimes

Kate. The current president of Zagrum, despite a major fall-out with Lou years back. A key to Lou’s turnaround

Key concepts, my paraphrase:

  • Self-deception. Having a problem, that everyone else sees, but you are blind to it. Or at least resistant.
  • Seeing people as people rather than objects

From the appendix, on giving the book to someone else, “This book will help teach you how to deal with me when I’m being a jerk.”

First published in 2000. Paperback in 2002. Second edition 2010. Third edition 2018.
As of 2010, over 1 million copies sold.
As of 2018, over 2 million copies sold.

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