On Leadership and Beer Goggles

What is the context in which you accomplish (or don’t accomplish) results?

The context is the background, the container, the larger space surrounding your life. And in large part, it is steering your life.

Here are some examples: Scarcity is a context. Love is a context. Fear is a context. “I will never let you hurt me again” is a context. Looking at life through “beer goggles” (a non-coherent perspective) is a context. There are several contexts operating at once in your life:

  1. The natural ecosystem in which you live.
  2. Your socio-economic-cultural-political environment.
  3. Your personal history (family tree, heritage).
  4. Your personal family environment.
  5. Your own story about yourself and your life (formed inside your family environment and often not updated from childhood).


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As we strive to articulate goals for the future, we often express ourselves in a context that is unconscious to us. Because we are unaware of this backdrop, we unintentionally can create many of our obstacles that fuel many of our breakdowns.

Do you hear those guiding contextual voices inside of your head and heart? Are you aware that they are there reminding you who you are, where you have been, and what you have become?

Most of the time we are living in one or more of these contexts and mistakenly assume that everyone else around us is “breathing that same air.” Unfortunately with this type of thinking, we actually couldn’t be farther from the truth. You see, people are different and have a different “contextual soup” coursing through their veins. And, unfortunately, when we discover that those around us are not living and breathing that same existence, we can often then assume that something is wrong with that other person. We can cause our self or others to stumble; or we create breakdowns because we feel that “different” is bad or somehow undesirable.

Being stuck in a contextual mindset may seriously negatively impact your level of influence with others. They see you as less than you could or should be.

When one doesn’t realize when they are locked into their own contextual mindset, it can play out in many unfortunate ways in organizational dynamics. For instance, think about how many hiring managers simply surround themselves with people just like them. Whether they do this on purpose or simply do this just to remain in a stable and comfortable environment, they are limiting the potential of their team by limiting the contextual diversity of their teammates. This can negatively impact results.

What is the context in which you live? What unexamined, unconscious attitudes and beliefs drive your actions and fuel your breakdowns?

Think about these questions. Then think about potential ways to re-think what you have been doing in your contextual world. Convince yourself to seek an improved way to conduct yourself for better performance. Begin to take the first step to recreating a context that supports your growth to discover what has been invisible to you in your life. Once your contextual reality is out in the open and under examination, you can shift your story and invent a context that better fits your life and your leading. You can be more purposeful and intentional with better information at hand.

You can take off your beer goggles and see things more clearly.

In a larger view, the Leader’s job is to invent new contexts that are clear and easy to  follow with purpose. This requires first shifting their own mindsets so that they are in sync with that larger vision. Then, after you have recalibrated your contextual landscape to be in league with that larger vision, you can lead others into something new with integrity.

So, what is lurking in the back of your mind that defines your contextual thought processes? How might you be unintentionally misusing that platform to make poor decisions? What can you do to become more aware of your “contextual soup” and make sure that you are being wise with your judgments? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Jennifer Cohen is Co-founder and Director at Seven Stones Leadership Group. She can be reached at jen@meaningfulleadership.com

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One response to “On Leadership and Beer Goggles

  1. From expereince and the evidence that is out there it is a must to understand context.

    Leaders cannot motivate anyone but themselves because only they fully understand their context(s). Whilst they may be able to empathize they cannot co-exist in someone else exact context – their “soup” is different.

    What a leader can do is inspire others so that they (the others) get motivated in their contextual soup. The leader adds “salt” to flavour things and make the soup more tasty.

    Be Awesome!

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