Episode 2

Mindset & Ignorance

Ignorance is a conscious choice, and it stems from an individual's mindset

featuring Senthiyl S S G

12m, 35s • Published on April 2nd, 2019

Ever heard of the saying by the philosopher Plato, “ignorance, the stem and root of all evil”? But first, we have to differentiate ignorance from stupidity. We should not attribute to malice what is perfectly explained by stupidity. Ignorance is a conscious choice, and it stems from an individual’s mindset. This can be explained by our willingness to cling to certain viewpoints, or our inability to move away from them. When combined with power, ignorance has the ability to generate social phenomena such as nationalism.

Hear from sought after thought leader Senthiyl S S G, Director of Consulting at The Arbinger Institute Singapore/Malaysia as he shares how ignorance can be countered by heightening our self-awareness to make us more aware of our emotional triggers and therefore less susceptible to confirmation bias.

Link to article: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/20/opinion/the-violence-of-forgetting.html

Transcript Begins

Derek – Introduction: In this episode I’m joined by a great thought leader and our regular co-host Senthiyl S S G. So Senthiyl, is the Director of Consulting at the Arbinger Institute Singapore Malaysia and which just celebrated there 15th year here in Asia. Senthiyl has been a speaker and consultant for 16 years and he really understands the deep human science behind mindset. He uses his experience to help multinational corporations, SME’s non-profits and schools change mindset. This episode is capturing our conversation from an article featured in the New York Times that I’ll link to in the description.

Really looking forward to diving into some uh topics today and really seeing your opinion and your thoughts on this.

Senthiyl: Thank you Derek. I am also looking forward to this conversation.

 Derek: So my first thought was this idea of are we falling back into nationalism? If you look at the US and who they have elected, if you look at England with Brexit, strong leaders throughout Asia that seem to be you know gaining more power everyday, why do you think we are trending back towards nationalism when the last time that was a huge theme in the world it lead to you know two world wars?

Senthiyl: When you think about nationalism, its very easy to think of complex models to explain all this. But what if there’s a simpler model you know why there is a surge in nationalism you know it’s a collection of individuals, and the collection of individuals each have their own ideologies ideas and all that right. And remember this every human being in my opinion, right is imperfect, there is no such thing as a perfect human being. In Arbinger we say we are all mixed mindset people you know we’re all mixed and therefore there is an aspect of ours which is very self-focused. So all you need is somebody to trigger that self-focused, self focus, that self-belief, that egoistical belief of an individual right and when you trigger enough of those among a lot of people, then you create a society where people generally are very self-focused. You can call that nationalism. The common denominator of nationalism is actually an individual who starts to believe that you know he needs to be the centre of the universe.

Derek: We get so self-focused, we spend so much time you know looking at our own cellphones, and our social media feeds but there is a lot of information that reinforces our particular beliefs we like and follow the things that we are self-interested to, and we start creating this echo chamber that reinforces that that an opinion I have created for myself. So how do you use education or self-awareness to help break out of this cycle?

Senthiyl: I am mixed mindset person, so there are certain aspects of me that are very self-focused, so let’s say I am I am somebody who doesn’t like Donald Trump. If I don’t like him you know and I’m imperfect and I have an egotistical take on that, I’m going to hate him no matter what you know. Then any information that comes which is contrarian to what I want to him be is something that I don’t like. And any information that feeds what I want it to be becomes information I get addicted to it because it reinforces what I thinking, to get out of that we have to have self-awareness, we need to be mindful, we need to start to check ourselves and say hey am I coming from a mature, wise place, or am I so stuck in my views that I’m not able to see the views of others, is something that we need to think about.

Derek: You know a lot of these you know nationalistic politicians they they prey on the emotions, and they tune into the emotions whether thats there’s not enough jobs, or security, your family’s not safe because the people that are here are you know having systems and securities in place. So how do you how do you help connect to logic over that emotion when that seems to be what the politicians are playing to?

Senthiyl: I think erm, coming back right, its about an individual’s own self-awareness, you know is he able to reflect on himself and say, hey, why am I believing in this particular individual, this particular channel so much? You know, why am I not able to listen to the others? Am I making a decision a conclusion based on listening to alternative you know views out there, or am I totally believing in one? The common denominator seems to be an individual’s ability to be self-aware reflect, you know and make decisions based on the information available rather than be addicted to a particular channel.

Derek: In higher education, there is, its always meant to be a check against uh you know political power, the idea I think from the article is that there is no genuine democracy without an informed public. Maybe that comes from higher education or maybe that comes through more self-awareness but in higher education, there is the idea that maybe the safe spaces that are being created are actually starting to limit some of the ideas and the different mindsets that exist in order to preserve um or to protect certain individuals by actually silencing other individuals, but I think when those other mindsets aren’t shared, there is potential of losing out on being informed on certain decisions. So you know where do you how do you look at that, how do you see it?

Senthiyl: You see safe spaces can only exist in the context of the larger environment. So if you have very powerful voices you know, the safe space what is it going to do?  How much influence is it going to have in the larger ecosystem? So, I tend to agree that safe spaces might have a small role, but they’re not going to make a big difference. Yes, education does play a big part right, when you educate people, they have more reasoning abilities, maybe they can reason, discern better, they have more knowledge to make sense out of things. But if you look at the problems we are having around nationalism, around me vs you, us vs them, those are fundamentally issues around how I view the world you know, am I inclusive or am I exclusive? The reason we are having all this is a fundamental belief about all the mindset about how we view the world, are we seeing them as people who have needs, are we seeing the situation clearly right. So if we can see the situation clearly, a lot of these problems right do not need complex solutions like safe space you know and so on. And you know we can go back to the basics and now how can we empower individuals to become more responsible for their impact on others, that might be a more helpful place to look at.

Derek: So if they do not want to be ignorant to these things, how can they quiet the noise around them and start to look internally to make some of those decisions?

Senthiyl: Lets say us ah you suffer a loss in the family.Somebody suffers a loss in the family and it is a very painful period for that individual. You know, and that painful period right is because they are so caught up with the pain of that moment, you know now the question is now how do we bring back the memories of the past to balance off you know, the memory that is so strongly held by this person, so you need to have balance. See we can’t thumb down the loud voices. What we need to do is that we need to have enough alternative voices in the space so that people are starting to see a buffet of ideas to look at.

Derek: A lot of times its that the news says, we got to be the first to report on this, so they’re going in faster, and they’re not you know maybe getting all the information, you know they they make their point and they want to stick by it, so new facts come, its not news anymore, so its back to individual right, they have to find you know the truth themselves, they can’t just take news at face value, they need to do their own research and I find that I I appreciate when there are fresh voices out there that say hey look, I stated this fact you know, at that time that’s the information we had, and I went back, and maybe couple of days went by, and we found out more information, you know, because we have things like there’s so many incidents of like public shaming that happens on the internet these days. And what does it after the fact you know actually there was more details that were completely change the story but the initial outrage is already there you know, someone’s life can literally be ruined because the internet can gets becomes very savage and hunts these people down and says terrible things and then if there’s true facts that come out – the news does not always report on that. So people’s lives can really get adversely affected by that information.

Senthiyl: So if more individuals here would be able to say hey wait a minute, so here’s a point of view, is there another angle to this right before I rush in and share my comments right, maybe let me check if there’s another angle to this, wouldn’t that be a very empowering refreshing way you know to contribute to the social media space.

Derek: Yeah. A definitely think that social media could use more mindfulness before people just launch rapid fire comments. but I think its again it’s that quick emotional response that – oh I feel very strongly about this and I want to express that and I want to have that be heard.

Senthiyl: And people know that right, they leverage on that so that they can trigger you know uh certain base emotions in us right and then they prey on that. And the moment we react to a sensational news like this they got us where they want us to be, and without that self-awareness I am just a puppet to somebody else, I am just playing their game.

Derek: Before that next comment, before that reaction, there are two parts right, there’s the action and reaction. There’s an action of hey before I put this comment down I can really think about this issue. I can weigh my emotions first, you know what are the facts in this case, and then also the reaction knowing that there are going to be those people that are trying to stir the pot that are trying to be controversial, you know do I just you know react to that, let my emotions you know me or do I have the self-awareness to not be so reactive, but to choose and you know create a path myself?

Senthiyl: Exactly. Because I have a choice, and that is a very empowering message  – I have a choice and the choice is in front of me, its a choice that only I can choose to make.

Derek: Yeah you know it that brings back the accountability to self.

Senthiyl: Exactly. Exactly. So a lot of the problems you are talking about ignorance right, actually there is no such thing as ignorance you know, it is actually a deliberate decision not to hear the other angle. So ignorance, it is not what it seems, it’s a deliberate decision not wanting to listen to other people, and that that’s is a certain mindset, and without self-awareness we can’t undo that undo that decision in fact a a thought a quote comes to my mind – its not an exact quote but you know, there have been lately leaders saying the the leaders that we get are a reflection of our mindsets. So what we have in the news right, is a reflection of what we are willing to be entertained by you know, so if the voices are very loud, its simply an indication that there are enough people who pander to those who who are entertained and who want those type of news you know. So it’s not the other way round you know that the voices are getting louder right, the voices are getting louder because to be loud I want it to be louder, I want this noise to be so deafening that I can’t hear anything else. So it’s again coming back to an individual and our choices.

Derek: I hope the listeners can contribute maybe they’ll listen to this maybe they’ll give their insights and join to this conversation. Appreciate you taking your time to give your thoughts and  your thoughts and to lend your background and your experience in mindset.

Senthiyl: Thank you, thank you Derek, for this opportunity.

Derek – Outro: Thanks for listening to our podcast, join the conversation on mindsetpark.com by liking commenting and subscribing. Subscribers get inside access to insights from global thought leaders. Remember your life is only as good as your mindset.

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