Feb 18

The Disciplined Practice of Constructivist Thinking

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What if you had the ability to transform any situation that confronted your organization into an opportunity? Imagine corporate challenges consistently stimulating you and your team in a positive way including the possibility of performing at a higher level.  What if greater challenges stimulated even greater positive energy and excitement within you and every member of your company? Imagine the possibilities that can emerge when you and every member of your organization each sees him or herself as the author of his or her future and as architects working in concert with their colleagues to design the future of your company. Learning the disciplined practice of constructivist thinking can open up these possibilities for you and your organization.

The disciplined practice of constructivist thinking is based upon the theory of constructivism. According to this theory, reality cannot be known with certainty. All that can be known with certainty is what reality is not. A scientific theory cannot be proven, only disproven. Knowledge fits reality like a key fits a lock. Knowledge then is a potential resource to be utilized when deemed useful in achieving an intended outcome.

To a constructivist, perceiving is a creative act. Your perception is created by your central nervous system in response to stimuli from the outside world. Your perception is also shaped by your “knowledge”, beliefs, and past experiences. While it always appears as if the way you see the world is the way the world truly is, it is this creative dimension of perceiving which explains how people from two different political parties can see the same set of circumstances so differently. Exercising one’s creativity as a constructivist yields a competitive edge.

To be a disciplined practitioner of constructivist thinking is to realize your capacity to perceive, at any moment, any person or situation in an empowering way. Just as a master in karate practices a particular kick literally thousands of times, you can through disciplined practice learn to perceive any person or situation in empowering ways. As a disciplined practitioner with 14,000 hours of practice, I can usually see any person or situation in an empowering way within a few moments to a few hours. The best time to practice perceiving reality in an empowering way is when you feel no responsibility for being in a given undesirable situation or when you feel constrained or powerless to produce the results that you or your company truly wants.

In constructing an empowering perception of reality, you can choose to use specific knowledge and beliefs when they both fit a given situation and are useful in producing a desired result. You can learn to readily substitute useful assumptions as an alternative to limiting knowledge and beliefs. For example it may be useful for you as a leader to assume that your team members are interested in and capable of learning in any situation where your first perception leads you to believe otherwise. In constructing an empowering perception, some knowledge may be useful all of the time. Other knowledge may be useful with particular people or in specific situations. Some knowledge may never be useful in producing results. Your personal beliefs can be scrutinized in a similar way.

As a disciplined practitioner, the key is to create an empowering construct (perception) of current reality, one which fits reality and gives you, the creator of the construct, the ability to achieve a positive outcome. As a disciplined practitioner, you will learn to see and assume responsibility for creating the context for self-fulfilling prophecies to occur, ones that impact your colleagues, your company, your community, and yourself. You will learn to be disciplined, to exercise care in only creating an environment where any self-fulfilling prophecies that occur are those that have a positive effect upon others, your organization, and yourself.

As a disciplined practitioner, you can also learn to step into someone else’s shoes and see how they perceive the world, including any knowledge or beliefs which unnecessarily limit possibilities. You can more readily see how others constrain themselves since you are not typically as captivated by their perception as you are by your own. “It is inherent in our intellectual activity that we seek to imprison reality in our description of it. Soon, long before we realize it, it is we who become the prisoners of the description.”¹ While it will take time and practice, you can learn to empower others by helping them to see when they are limiting possibilities for themselves, others or your organization. Practitioners of this disciplined practice have the capacity to make a profound positive impact in corporate America, all branches of government, the not for profit sector, and communities.

Every future blog on our company’s website will be written to help interested professionals to learn more about the disciplined practice of constructivist thinking and how this practice can be used for the benefit of individuals to add value to organizations, communities, family, and friends. Send an e-mail to us at info@level3bydesign.com to receive future articles and true stories as soon as they are released through our company’s e-newsletter. The intent of each e-newsletter will be to help our readers to learn more about how to use this disciplined practice to make a positive impact. Our company also offers free 30 to 60 minute talks on topics relevant to leadership as a means for interested organizations to benefit from our expertise while learning more about our company’s work. Take action today! Contact us to arrange for a free talk about a topic relevant to your organization or send us an e-mail to receive our company’s e-newsletter.

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¹ Aneurin Bevan

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