Your mental models are your theories about how the world works. They come from your life’s experiences, your education, your family, your cultural background, your work experience, your religion (or no religion if you don’t have one). For most people, your mental models are sub-conscious – they affect how you behave but you aren’t aware of the impact that they have.
For example, if you had a mental model that as a manager you should have all the appropriate knowledge of someone in that role to justify your title and the money you are earning, and a staff member asks you a question to which you do not know the answer, then you are at risk of responding with a lie. You will simply make up an answer that will re-enforce your view of yourself as a competent manager.
This short video explains this concept in more detail.
The vast majority of my work is about helping talented professionals to ‘see’ their mental models so they can assess their usefulness. When they discover they don’t have a useful mental model, we explore which ones might be more useful and start the process of putting the new mental models into practice.
If you want to be successful, raising your awareness of your mental models is essential.