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Try an outward mindset...

By Sandra Neal

Five years ago I read Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box by The Arbinger Institute. It suggested that you, me, and every human being has a problem. Sometimes we don’t treat people as people – we treat them as vehicles for what we want, obstacles keeping us from what we want, or irrelevant to what we want. Sounds a bit harsh, doesn’t it?

But the book was written in such a disarming and resonant way that, by the time I finished reading it, I realized this was the missing piece in my relationships. It explained why I felt judged or blamed by some of my colleagues, and subconsciously judged and blamed in return.

As experts in training and development, we’re often asked to help our employees develop their soft skills. If you’re like me, sometimes it feels like there’s a fundamental piece missing, something that seems so basic it’s almost impossible to articulate. Here are three tools that might be helpful if you’re on a similar journey.

1. Jim Ferrell’s TED talk on Resolving The Heart of Conflict: 

Jim is one of Arbinger’s founders, and here he explains why we crave drama even when it doesn’t seem to be in our best interest.

2. Defining Outward Mindset:

Mitch is the other founder of Arbinger, and in this five minute video he briefly explains an inward and outward mindset.

3. Leadership and Self Deception:

The book that’s been changing organizations and their employees since 2000. If the videos above piqued your interest, you’ll have this leadership fable knocked out in 3-4 hours.

This book has been so powerful for me that I give away copies at every opportunity and attended Arbinger’s training earlier this month to learn more. If you read the book and would like to talk through it with someone (it’s hard to discuss with someone who hasn’t read it yet), let’s get together for coffee. You can reach me at

Best of luck to you as you strive for an outward mindset!

Sandra Neal

2018 ATD Chattanooga President


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