The Signature File that got me Chewed Out

The story in your head always finds expression in your life. But, it’s dangerous when behaviors and attitudes are based on fabrications.

He doesn’t like me.

I’m not appreciated.

They’re out to get me.

She plays favorites.

suspended monkeys

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The story in your head about the behaviors and intentions of others is based on:

  1. Partial information.
  2. Imagination.
  3. Assumption – in large doses.

Fabrication begin with words like, “He did that because _______. (Fill in an imagined motivation.)

Tragically, once you tell yourself a story, you believe it.

The signature file:

I attached a DeBono quote to all my emails. “Those who think they know, don’t.” It offended a boss I had many years ago. He thought I put it there for him.

I explained that the quote was attached to all my emails. He listened and chewed me out two more times. He couldn’t let go of a fabricated offense.

Combine my quote with the cocky attitude I had and it’s easy to arrive at the conclusion that I thought my boss was incompetent or worse.

Assumptions are unopened windows that foolish birds fly into, and their broken bodies are evidence gathered too late.  Bryan Davis

I stopped attaching the DeBono quote to my emails!


  1. Limit perceptions.
  2. Invite judgments.
  3. Establish conclusions.

The story in your head – about others – sets the direction of relationships.

Open leadership:

Hold your tongue. Open your heart. Delay conclusions.

  1. Stay courageously curious.
  2. Suspend judgement and listen. Listening requires the suspension of judgment.
  3. State the obvious. The obvious isn’t as obvious as you think.
  4. Dare to be wrong.
  5. Reveal intentions. Explain how you’re seeking the highest good of others in concrete terms.
  6. Tell yourself positive stories until you validate a negative.
  7. Make agreements with colleagues and co-workers that you’ll assume the best, unless proven otherwise.

How can leaders manage the stories in their heads?