Episode #941 Margaret Heffernan: Willful Blindness

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Moe and Margaret Heffernan talk about how and why all of us should develop "fierce determination to see" whatever we need to understand.


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Margaret Heffernan

Entrepreneur, CEO, Writer, and Keynote Speaker. View Full Profile

Why We Ignore the Obvious

Throughout the course of a typical day, each of us will make hundreds of decisions on what we choose to see and what decide to ignore.  Often, these decisions are habitual and are guided by our personal beliefs, upbringing, or a workplace environment for which we’ve adapted.  Early this morning during my workout, I noticed a young man working out on the bench press next to the one I was using, and while he seemed to be confident and physically fit, I had a hunch that he might need help with his next set.  Having never met or seen him before at the club, I wanted to be respectful, and made subtle eye contact as to let him know that I was there if he needed a spot.  A minute later, after I finished my set, he politely walked over, introduced himself, and let me know that he had just relocated to San Diego, and asked if “I wouldn’t mind giving [him] a spot.”   As is always the case, he was plenty strong, and just wanted the reassurance of someone standing behind him; still, it reinforced to a valuable lesson.  

As pedestrian as that may sound, it was a serendipitous moment for me, because I was scheduled to speak with Margaret Heffernan that same afternoon about the topic of Willful Blindness and how it’s infecting each one of us.  On any given day, I walk pass several individuals just like my new, aforementioned friend, and I keep on walking, not because I don’t want to help, more because I’ve been conditioned to believe that those who need help will ask.  As Heffernan would say, I was choosing “to ignore the obvious,” and as you’ll discover in my fascinating conversation with her, you, too do it — much more than you think.  

Here’s what will guide our discussion:

  • Learning to recognize your own Willful Blindness

  • How to begin to see what you’ve been missing

  • The essence of a Thinking organization

  • Why conflict is the catalyst to your very best thinking

  • The shift to a more collective and inclusive model of leadership

  • The key questions admired leaders are asking themselves

  • An important message to female entrepreneurs and leaders