Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Mindlessly Wandering

"We're unaware when we're mindless. Again, when we're not there, we're not there to know we're not there." - Ellen Langer
Many of you may have seen Arron Bevin's brick wall "optical illusion" picture that went viral on social media recently. I have to admit that I had to search online for the spoiler because I just couldn't find the "Waldo" element many said existed. Once I learned of said element (not going to spoil it for you), I can no longer "unsee" what existed in plain sight.

How many times have you driven from Point A to Point B and wondered how you got there? How did that person you read about in the news follow their GPS into a river? Most importantly, how do firefighters involved with fatality events often report it was an ordinary fire?

Dr. Ellen Langer, professor of psychology at Harvard University, has made it her specialty to study the illusion of control and decision making. In this Mindfullness Over Matter video, below she discusses mindlessness and its affect on decision making.
Mindlessness – An inactive state of mind characterized by reliance on distinctions, categories drawn in the past:
  1. the past over-determines the present
  2. trapped in a single perspective
  3. insensitive to context
  4. rule and routine governed
  5. typically in error but rarely in doubt
Mindfulness – an active state of mind characterized by novel distinction - drawing that results in:
  1. being situated in the present
  2. sensitive to context and perspective
  3. rule and routine guided
  4. phenomenological experience of engagement
"Noticing novelty reveals uncertainty."

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge - Digging a Little Deeper
  • Discuss with your team how mindlessness can contribute to accidents and illnesses.
  • Discuss how mindfulness can be used make your team more effective, efficient, and safer.
  • How do our values and belief systems affect our perceptions and control of a situation?\
  • How does mindlessness affect your learning?

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