This article is written from the position of a psychology professor understanding students, but it caught my attention and make me remember Do The Work by Steven Pressfield as well.
If a person’s behavior doesn’t make sense to you, it is because you are missing a part of their context. It’s that simple. I’m so grateful to Kim and their writing for making me aware of this fact. No psychology class, at any level, taught me that. But now that it is a lens that I have, I find myself applying it to all kinds of behaviors that are mistaken for signs of moral failure — and I’ve yet to find one that can’t be explained and empathized with.
I read this in the context of leadership and it is a good reminder that as a leader and manager you need to start with the assumption that people are trying to do the right thing. Most people want to do the right thing and be successful.
People do not choose to fail or disappoint. No one wants to feel incapable, apathetic, or ineffective. If you look at a person’s action (or inaction) and see only laziness, you are missing key details. There is always an explanation. There are always barriers. Just because you can’t see them, or don’t view them as legitimate, doesn’t mean they’re not there. Look harder.
This is a great call to action for leaders. If you see a lack of progress, what might you be missing that is inhibiting that progress?