“Black Box Thinking“. Sometimes a book is recommended to you very simply; “If you are interested in personal performance then you MUST read this”. A quick trip to a local book shop and I sat down ready to learn about the secrets of high performers. What I got was an uncomfortable, thought provoking and challenging insight into human nature. How it can make or break society.

How thinking like the aviaton industry can help us learn from our mistakes and make improvementsBlack Box Thinking* is based on the “Black Box” you get on an aeroplane; the computer that stores all the data and information that accident investigators would need to access should the worst occur. Priceless information that can be used to prevent any mistakes happening again. The Black Box exists as the potential for accidents or issues is out in the open.
We are first led through a range of real-life case studies covering the aviation industry, medical and law. This piece of work grabs your attention; the first half is a difficult read. The central theme is around mistakes; how should learn from them and the life altering danger of ignoring them. This “mental jar” is essential; the lighter examples of inventors and athletes won’t have the same impact if you haven’t shed a tear about miscarriages of justice and near-misses.
I finished this books feeling two things: angry that some sectors still push hierarchy over attention (this will make sense when you read the book) and very optimistic that we can change.  That we can create environments where, be it at home, school or work, “blame cultures” are replaced with continual growth through reflection.

There are no mistakes, only learning experiences

Whilst clichéd, this sentence is not just essential for high performance, but to remove the perfectionist “first time right” assumption that far too many people carry with them (then mentally beat themselves up with!)

There are the key areas that I took away from the book, which I wanted to share with you today:
The impact of cognitive dissonance
Put simply, the brain will ignore any evidence that doesn’t support its belief. Either actively seeking it out or very simply ignoring anything that is presented (aka “Alternative Facts”). Consider the beliefs you hold about yourself, your abilities and your potential; what would happen if you sought out information that challenged these?
The power of acknowledging mistakes
The book provides real-life examples of when mistakes are not recognised; so they can’t be learnt from. Whilst in the aviation and medical field these had life changing effects, the impact of ignoring mistakes or issues shouldn’t be disregarded in our day to day lives. What messages are we sending to our children, our staff, ourselves with a blame culture? Start trusting yourself to learn from mistakes.
Why we should all be inventors
There is an assumption that innovators have one “BIG” idea that they run with. We don’t always hear (or pay attention – see cognitive dissonance) about the thousands of experiments before the final version. The subtle adjustments made to their technology or theory, often building on another idea. How many of us put unrealistic pressure on ourselves, no taking into consideration the natural growth and development we all go through by learning from our mistakes?
Daily actions and changes make BIG progress
This comes up so often with my clients when we start talking; the leap they want is massive. Just too big. So nothing happens. When they consider their role models, they see the current state (no-one is ever the end product) and can’t see the steps it has taken to get there.

In reality, high performance, or put another way, success, comes from movement. Lots of little changes, done frequently, make such a big difference.  What could you achieve if you made a 1% achievement to 100 things in your life? This is the recipe to success to one of the sports teams within the book – from outsiders to champions

I challenge you today to start reflecting on what hasn’t worked for you and deciding on what you will change tomorrow! Come along to my Facebook Group and share your thoughts. If you liked this, then here are more of my book reviews: Rip it Up and my Career Changing Books.

*This link is an affiliate link; if you click through then I will get a small commission. Obviously, the book is available in a range of places!

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