Normalcy Bias: Take the Blinders Off.

what is normalEver wonder what you would do in crisis?  How you would react?  Would you rush to the aid of those in trouble?  Would you stand and watch the flames moving towards you with an utter sense of calm despite impending danger?

Though not a natural disaster, there are issues all around our teams that need our attention, but we are blissfully unaware because of our view of normal.

Maybe houses aren’t burning down, hurricanes and typhoons causing massive damage, tornados or zombie apocalypse but there are concerns on every team and we are simply blind or naive to them.

No, no one is sleeping with anyone.

No, no one is addicted to crack…hopefully.

No, no one is skinning people and wearing their skin as clothes.

Are there tactics, or opportunities you are simply not taking advantage of because of your view of normalcy?

The ship may have metaphorical fires that you simply see as how things should operate, and when some one questions it or attempts to put out the fire you quietly and sternly tell them to stop because of YOUR view of normal.

  • THIS is how the worship service should operate.
  • THIS is what it looks like to disciple students.
  • THIS is what it looks like to give a sermon.
  • THIS is what it looks like to lead and facilitate conversation.
  • THIS….fill in the blank.

Insist on yourself; never imitate. Every great man is unique.


Rather than simply finding the next great book and replicating their methods, mirroring everything that you have experienced and producing a carbon copy….take your blinders off and evaluate your sense of normal.

If you cannot take your blinders off…bring others into your core team and ask them to critically evaluate the process.

The problem: they have blinders too.  They have their sense of normal.

Ultimately, We can either think for ourselves; or we can have our thinking done for us by the influences around us.  Julian James.

 Is there any value in asking others to evaluate your final product critically?  How do you usually respond when someone lets you know you can do it a different way?  

11 thoughts on “Normalcy Bias: Take the Blinders Off.

  • There is wisdom in asking others to evaluate anything you do or create. It seems to me that successful people in ministry or business have learned this early on. Asking someone who is not directly involved in what you are doing is usually smart because they are the least likely to be blinded by your “normalcy”.

    • How have you experienced this in your time in ukraine? When my wife and I were in Kosovo there were some people there that preferred not to be challenged on the way they did missions. Id love to hear what that looks like in your ministry caleb!

      • I think you’ll find people like that all over the world. I usually test the waters a little before suggesting any kind of change. The longer someone has been in one place the harder it can be to do any kind of change. In my experience some people you just have to let go of because they’re just going to keep doing what they’ve always done.

        I prefer to work closer with those who are willing to evaluate and make changes based upon that evaluation. If you make that a pattern for your ministry you will probably also attract people who have a similar philosophy.

        • Man that tough Caleb– causes although I hear what you say I also here you saying you give up on people. And albeit justified from some perspective that seems like a rough route to take in a people changing business-however I do get the balance of people are going to to what they are going to do and you cannot change them so let them do what they are going to do! Thanks for the thoughts my man

          • David, I guess I was thinking in the context of missions partnerships when I wrote that. For instance we have developed a ministry training program that can be used by local churches to train their own members. We only go to those churches who are open to us and open to change. We never press our way in because we know that forced change does more harm than good. As far as personal relationships go I think we also have to be careful. Sometimes I can be so eager to offer advice to that will change someones life but I have to evaluate their readiness to hear it. Advice given without a relationship or when a person is not ready to hear it can also do damage.

  • I think everyone has their biases, preconceptions, blinders, and filters. That’s not really a bad thing per se – just an inevitable fact of our humanity. The key, though, is stepping outside and taking a deep look at our filters. We often don’t do this just because no one really brings it to our attention. It’s one of those things that can fly under the radar. But I’ thankful for people of courage who can point out areas for us to reconsider.

    • bring it loren! I am sure its huge in time management where we don’t like when people assess whether we are wasting time or not by our habits. Or we think we ar being efficient because we simply don’t know of any other we— its our normal. great thoughts loren always a joy to hear from you my man

  • I like to think I’m open to feedback – as someone who is constantly trying to learn and improve. I like your thought that there are issues all around us that aren’t “burning” so we don’t give them the attention they need. Convicting!

    • I’m like you Tom – I like to think I’m pretty open to feedback…. but, seeking out feedback and actually looking to improve, that’s another thing. I guess the key is to be open to feedback from the right people, trusted advisors, rather than just anyone who wants to have a go at you!

      • great thoughts Rich- but even from those that just want a shot at you have insightful things to say…albeit with the wrong motives. I loved your list of 50 things and the one thing that seems to connect here is lean in your our critics or the way you said it listen to your critics with one ear and ignore with the other. thanks for the thoughts man hope to hear from you in the future!

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