Critical Leadership Thinking

If you have seen the movie Inception, staring Leonardo Dicaprio and Ellen Page, I want to give you some ways to understand why your message is not landing the way you want it to by looking at the movie as an analogy.

Inception is built around the idea of planting an idea in a person’s dream until it consumes their waking thought and becomes a reality they must pursue.  At the beginning of the movie the only person who believes inception is possible is Leonardo DiCaprio but you don’t know why he says it is possible.

So the movie is really about a dream within a dream within a dream.  You have to concentrate to know which dream level you are watching and how it fits with the other dream levels before you know how to interpret what you are seeing.  In dream level one, the person you are trying to “plant” the idea on wants to fight you so they actually have little sniper people coming out to shoot you out of the dream. Sound confusing?

Once you get the rhythm it is actually easy to break all three dreams out and see them as they play on the screen.  It becomes fascinating to see how they interplay and why Leonardo’s wife keeps cropping up in the dreams as a villain.

When you present you are talking to your audience in dream level one. You know exactly what you want to say and how you want to implant your ideas so they grasp them and run with them.  But in this state your audience is fighting what you are saying  and their brain is actually sending out little snipers to shoot your ideas down.

Dream level two is where they start to come to you and want to work with you on the dream.  In a presentation this means you have shifted from trying to drill your message down to seeing it from their perspective. At this stage you align all of your examples, thoughts and ideas with how it relates to the listener’s world instead of yours.

The last dream level is the tricky one.  It is where you need to be able to differentiate between your dreams that are interlocking with theirs and reality may become confused.  I see this one happen when presenters have gotten so absorbed in what they are saying that they no longer see the difference in what will work, what won’t work and what needs to happen to make something work.

So if you want to become a stronger presenter it is not about “implanting” your idea in another person’s mind or you can run in to the devasting consequences that Leonardo ran in to with his wife.  But rather it is about connecting with the other person so their dream and yours align in a way that makes extraordinary things happen.

Challenge yourself to learn and align your goals and dreams with colleagues, other departments and your boss.  You will find you will gain greater success if you do.


Leadership Development

September 23, 2010 at 1:00 CST

Sign Up for this FREE Webinar on how to think fast and obtain optimal results!