You Can’t Wake A Person Who Is Pretending To Be Asleep

“You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep” is an ancient Navajo proverb. The wisdom of this proverb has withstood the test of time and therefore it should not escape your attention today. Slow down, for just a minute, and consider it:

“You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep”

What does this proverb mean to you? How might it apply to your role as CIO and the challenges you face?

Meaning of “You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep”

This is a metaphor that has many layers of meaning for life and at work. As a CIO, CIO advisor and consultant I am often reminding myself of this proverb and its many layers:

  • People who are pretending to be asleep will resist being awakened because they have something to lose by ending the charade.
  • People who pretend to be asleep can often lose track of what is real and what is pretend and thus cannot respond normally to situations.
  • People will act as if nothing is happening when they don’t want to face the reality of the situation by pretending to be unaware or unsure despite being presented with the evidence.

These are meanings that I find particularly useful to me in my line of work.  

Do any of them resonate with you? Or, bring to mind any current struggles?

Are You Pretending to be Asleep

I could easily focus this post on how CIO’s should deal with customers that are pretending to be asleep or even staff. But that would be sidestepping the more important conversation.

So what is it that you are pretending to be asleep on?

  • Are you ignoring a performance problem with one of your direct reports?
  • Are you dismissing or ignoring the underlying causes of your department’s performance problems?
  • Are you pretending to be dealing with the budget problems and value delivery issues?
  • Is your IT strategic plan and goals for the year just one big form of pretending?

Again, slow down, for just a minute, and consider it. Are you pretending to be asleep?

All that I can offer is the encouragement to find someone who can challenge you to stop pretending at least to yourself so you can get things back on track. I know that it is not easy to find people that will be honest with you. Someone who will tell you what you need to hear not what you want to hear.

I also know it is not easy to open yourself up for honest critical feedback. Remember it is better to hear it from someone you have enlisted to help you than to hear it from your CEO, president or even worse your staff. Think What you don’t know they won’t tell you.

We are all human. You’re human. We have good days and bad. Ups and downs. Strengths and weaknesses. And we can all benefit from an objective view. Seek one, find one and listen to one.

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2 Responses to You Can’t Wake A Person Who Is Pretending To Be Asleep

  1. Jacqui Bettio says:

    Thanks for sharing this…..will take it away and reflect!

  2. Pingback: You Can’t Wake A Person Who Is Pretending...

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