My dad was famous for saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.” I’m sure you probably heard that growing up, too. I call it the directive contradiction. On one hand, our authority figures want us to do one thing, while they themselves exhibit the opposite behavior. The command itself embraces its contradiction in a humorous way. It even suggest that we have no power over our contradictory behavior.

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In today’s podcast with Robert McKee, he explores the unique human experience of contradictory behavior.

“People believe in luck, they believe that they are the exception, that God will intervene. A wise leader would understand that people are not rational. That they are contradictory, they are irrational and not sneer at that, but embrace it. Because if you cannot think in terms of the irrationality of the world, you cannot lead. If you can’t embrace their irrationality, you can’t take them where you want to take them.”

Business leaders have to understand irrationality as a kind of norm. But if you think in data, your dead. Data cannot explain the subconscious motivation of people. Data can measure the devastation or achievement of the act. Only narrative can capture the backstory of an event, what happened and why. Remember in our earlier podcast that the mind is shaped for story, because story clearly communicates events that change for the better or worse. And when change occurs, our brains go on hyper alert to trigger the proper reaction that will protect our being.

So it’s funny to me that our irrational, contradictory nature constantly tests our own survival by doing as we do and not as we say.

Great business leaders appreciate that that’s what it means to be human.