As we face increasing levels of uncertainty and change, one of the key skills we all need is to challenge our own mental models about how the world works. I’m not suggesting we resort to eating doughnuts to ease our feelings of helplessness in the face of it all (although this often seems like a good idea), but that we listen closely to people who are working hard to reshape the ways we collectively see the world.
One such person is Kate Raworth, who has taken on the way we classically frame economics, recasting it in the shape of a doughnut to bring in both the limits of our planet and the centrality of human welfare to create a far more balanced and hopeful model for the future of human economic activity (see picture below). She explains it far better than me in her book and the following link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BHOflzxPjI. Her work is a great provocation to reflect on whether our own behaviour as leaders and planetary citizens is working towards the doughnut – or not!
Continuously challenging and updating our mental models really matters – for two reasons:
- Sometimes our maps of the world are so out of step with reality that they lead to unintended (and tragic) consequences. Examples of this are rife – slavery used to be acceptable, unlimited growth on a finite planet is possible - to name just two
- We can get extremely attached to our maps of how the world works and rather than reflect on this, we can start treating others as fools (or worse) because they see the world differently. This kind of inflexibility limits our capacity to work effectively with others and at worse can ultimately breed intolerance and hatred.
So, to avoid falling into the trap of believing your truth is THE truth (particularly when others agree with you), practice challenging your own mental models and beliefs and get curious about what you are really attached to and why. Why not try starting with a doughnut?
Karen Jacques is a Senior Consultant at Impact UK.