Black box systems, black box behavior……………………..Part One

Black box 1 career

“In science and engineering a black box is a device, system or object which can be viewed in terms of its input, output and transfer characteristics without any knowledge of its internal workings”

Source: Wikipedia

This idea intrigues me and makes me wonder if there is such a thing as ‘Black Box Behavior’.

By which I mean there may be times when we are facing a particular event or task and our approach to it is to get our ‘heads down’ and focus solely on getting through it. We just want to get it over and done with and be able to say, “thank goodness that is all over”. So the bit in the middle somehow passes by in a blur, without us fully engaging with it.

However this approach may well be stopping us from being as effective as we could be. As a career coach I do wonder how people approach interviews, assessment centers, presentations, appraisals, organizational changes. It occurs to me that in these situations people might well be exhibiting, ‘black box behavior’.

If the sole focus is on getting through the event as quickly and as painlessly as possible, which is not entirely unreasonable. My concern is that individuals may not be giving themselves the best possible chance to ‘shine’. I would question how well they are listening and engaging with the event and subsequently how well they could adapt to any changes if need be.

This very much reminds me of how I used to approach the delivery of workshops, many, many years ago. In the early days of my career I would rather have had ‘root canal’ work than stand up and present to a group of people.

Thankfully things worked out so that I had to deal with this, but at the time my preferred approach was to prepare like crazy, a pretty useful thing to do and then just focus on getting it over and done with. Race through the content and breathe a huge sigh of relief once it was finished.

I have to say one of the most useful bits of advice I have ever received was from a colleague I was working with at the time, who very wisely said to me

“Janice, I think you probably just need to relax and enjoy”

“Relax and enjoy! Are you mad?”

No they certainly were not, but that is precisely what I learnt to do over the years. To take the process in my stride and trust that I had done enough preparation had enough experience and knowledge to deliver a workshop and deliver it well.

Today I do indeed enjoy the delivery I especially enjoy the interaction with participants. I love it when people engage and that will only happen if you are fully engaged as well and if you are a bit more relaxed the chances are that they will be too.

All very well and easy to say, but how exactly do you start to relax and enjoy an event you have been dreading for some while?

Well I’ll come back to that next time………………………………

Janice Taylor

About careerresilience

Career Coach and Writer at Blue Sky Career Consulting. I love to write and am currently juggling three different blogs. On a mission to discover how people can thrive and flourish in life and work.
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