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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

Nov 25, 2022


If we expect something to be boring, it ends up being even more boring.



Welcome to episode 165 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we bring research to life in your leadership. This week we explore how expecting something to be boring makes it even more boring.

Let’s face it, we all get a little bored at times. Sometimes we even expect something to be boring in advance. Universities are a great place to research boredom. Lectures can be amazing, but they can also be a little tedious. One of the best psychology lectures I ever went to was on human perception. Our amazing and rather elderly professor put glow in the dark dots on his torso and limbs, then turned out the lights in the lecture theatre. He walked around in front of a hundred or so students demonstrating how just a few dots allow us to clearly see the human form. Unfortunately he then tripped over, and the dots all ended up being in a pile on the floor. Fortunately he was fine, but the lesson always stuck with me. But for every lecture like that, there were many others that didn’t quite reach the same heights.

Researchers have shown that our expectations about a lecture can impact the way we feel about the lecture. If we expect a lecture to be boring, we actually end up feeling even more bored than we would have otherwise felt. Expecting something to be boring makes it even more boring.

So what can we do about this? Here are four ideas.

  1. Remain curious. Even the most boring topic, presentation or meeting will have some interesting elements if we just look out for them.
  2. Remind yourself of why you’re there in the first place. Positioning the potentially boring even in the context of a broader purpose can make that time more meaningful.
  3. Try a little daydreaming. Letting your mind wander during a boring event might just help you to come up with that breakthrough idea you have been chasing.
  4. Cut your losses. If something is truly boring and doesn’t add any value, you can always walk out.

Have a great, and not boring, week.