44 minutes | Jan 14th 2020

TLP185: The Five Mindtraps That Hold Us Back

Jennifer Garvey Berger is the CEO of Cultivating Leadership, and the author of two books, Changing on the Job: Developing leaders for a complex world and her most recent book, Unlocking Leadership Mindtraps: How to Thrive in Complexity. Jennifer shares the common Mindtraps all leaders unknowingly succumb to.


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Key Takeaways

[4:15] There are five leadership mindtraps that hold us back:

  1. We are trapped by the ways we believe we’re right.
  2. We are trapped by the simple story we tell ourselves about people, events, and places.
  3. We are trapped by our desire to be in a tribe, to agree with the people in our tribe.
  4. We are trapped by our need to control events.
  5. We are trapped by our own egos.

[12:25] As Jennifer works with more and more leaders, she has started to realize that it’s not what you know, it’s all about how you’re being.

[14:00] Our parents have trouble with the simplest of technologies, does that mean we, as we grow older, will have the same problems? Is this a mindset thing or are we always going to hit some sort of technological threshold? Jennifer is curious to see what the answers to these questions will be as we age and grow.

[18:05] Across our lifespan, we have gotten education wrong in so many ways.

[20:40] Beyond roleplaying and trying out new roles in a safe setting, people can expand and change their behavior through having real conversations in “the wild.” It's scary but it can be very transformative.

[24:05] The reality is, we as people love simplicity. In chaotic or complex environments, we are often drawn to the simplest of solutions. However, in such a fast-paced environment, these simple solutions are actually dangerous. We need to take a step back and reimagine leadership.

[27:30] We fall into these leadership mindtraps because we are so overwhelmed by the complexity around us. We have to intentionally evolve ourselves so we break the pattern.

[32:35] Sometimes you need to go slow to go fast. Doing stuff for the sake of doing it is just not productive or helpful. Slowing down is a discipline very few people can consciously do.

[36:40] Pay close attention to how we make sense of the world. Do you always get easily frustrated by x reason? Take a step back and uncover the why behind it. Take time to make sense of it. Once you do, you will be much more productive.

[42:15] Jennifer wants you to think about who you are trying to be seen as. What descriptions would you like other people to use when describing you? What descriptions would you hate to be used when describing you? And are those words, those descriptions, helping you or getting in your way?


Quotable Quotes

  • “We look for a hero and a villain and we make up our minds on an incredibly small amount of evidence.”
  • “We don’t go looking for complexity.”
  • We’ve never lived in a world that has challenged humans so much when it comes to handling complexity.
  • “We don’t know the difference between informational learning, which is from a book, or transformational learning, which is am I changing and growing over time.”
  • “We need to reimagine leadership and we need to do that by noticing some of these simple solutions and simple answers are actually dangerous.”


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Resources Mentioned


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