I like mapping models on top of other models. Even though no two models are exactly the same, it is in overlaying ones that are similar enough that you begin to see more opportunities for how to flexibly apply them, especially when filtered through the interrelated relationships of self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-reflection.

For example, Carol Dweck proposed the Growth vs. Fixed mindset model, and James Carse proposed the Infinite vs. Finite games model. Similar to both of these is Stephen Covey’s Abundance vs. Scarcity mindset model and Chris Argyris’ Productive vs. Defensively minded organizations model. Furthermore, there is the Achievement Goal theory model (influenced by David McClelland’s Need for Achievement theory) that distinguishes between a task orientation and an ego orientation. Someone with a task orientation is more focused on the process to achieve mastery; whereas, someone with an ego orientation is more focused on the outcome and consequence of every single performance. Moreover, the Conscious Leadership Group’s 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership are all positioned around the model of being either Above the Line (open, curious, and committed to learning) or Below the line (defensive, closed, and committed to being right).

Let’s take a closer look at all of these models listed above, side by side (plus a few more distinctions):

Above the LineBelow the Line
ImprovingProving (Prosecuting)
Getting “it” Right (Researching)Being Right (Preaching)

Sometimes I like to say “it’s all the same.” However, this lacks nuance and is easily misinterpreted to mean that they do not differ in meaningful ways, which is NOT true. One of the meaningful ways in which they differ is in context and application. For example, finite games are not bad or problematic, they are only problematic when not played inside the context of an infinite mindset.

On the contrary, I do not think it is a worthwhile practice to find reasons to justify behaving “below the line.” More often, being “below the line” lacks consciousness and perpetuates drama and antagonistic behavior, quite similar to an organization behaving defensively, as opposed to productively. Therefore, some of these models distinguish between two mindsets and behavioral tendencies in which both can be equal parts strategically appropriate depending on the context. Whereas, some of the other models distinguish between two mindsets and behavioral tendencies in which one is inherently more problematic, harmful, and destructive. Nonetheless, I do also see the value in identifying and considering situations that would favor each one of the mindsets and behaviors listed in the fixed column over the growth column.

When I say it’s “all the same,” what I am intending to imply is that there are a LOT more conceptual similarities than there are differences between the models. Therefore, if we can more quickly see this and agree on this, we can play a more infinite game of combining models to advance conversation and contribution, as opposed to playing the finite and egotistical game of branding terminology as the one and only way of understanding, explaining, and predicting reoccurring patterns of phenomenon.

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