Sometimes strange things, more accurately strange ideas and events, influence our behavior.
Our central nervous system operates like a tape recorder and constantly records all the day-to-day events of our life. Most of these events are processed by our nervous system and are, in effect, released. When this happens, we let go of the memory and it doesn’t influence our future behavior. However, sometimes the tape recordings get stuck in our mind. When that happens, the memory of the recorded event can be easily triggered in the future and affect our everyday behavior. Sometimes we are aware that a past memory is influencing our behavior, most often we are probably not aware of it.
Recently, I finished up a client meeting and headed east on Union Avenue on my way home. It was probably shorter and quicker to take the interstate, but I was in no hurry and I actually like meandering through the back roads at times. That is ... I used to like those back roads.
On this particular day, a driver in a large SUV pulled out right in front of me on Union and I had neither the time nor room to avoid him. It quickly turned into what is commonly referred to as a “T-bone” accident. I plowed headfirst into the side of his vehicle. Fortunately, no one was hurt. My seat belt and airbag both did a great job. The other driver got a failure-to-yield ticket and a bent passenger door - and I got a totaled car out of the deal.
So, a few weeks later I am in my brand new car, leaving the same client’s office. And without thinking, realized that I was headed down the interstate toward home. Prior to the accident, I probably took the back roads route nine out of 10 times. After thinking about it, I am pretty sure my memory of the accident caused me to almost automatically turn right onto the interstate rather than going straight and taking my chances with the perils of Union Avenue.
This is a relatively simple and harmless example of how our memory tapes influence our behavior. It is interesting to explore your tapes. Many of them are harmless, but many prove to be career limiting if you are not careful.
Here is the mother of all tapes that causes problems for many professionals: Everybody ought to love me all the time. Memories of past disappointments and disapprovals related to when certain individuals did not love us all the time creep into our psyche and sometimes keep us from being effective leaders, managers, salespeople, parents and so forth and so on. Don't get me wrong; I am not implying that you should go around alienate people or not care what anyone thinks about you. It is human nature to want to be accepted by others. Just make sure you don't want it too badly.
Think about your tapes and how they might be influencing your behavior. And be careful on Union Avenue.
Chris Crouch is CEO of DME Training and Consulting and author of several books on improving productivity. Contact him through www.dmetraining.com.