I can remember when I was young, and the name of the town Abilene, Texas, came up. My Dad would sing this song by Bobby Bare.
Abilene, Abilene prettiest town I’ve ever seen
Women there don’t treat you, mean in Abilene my Abilene
Crowded cities ain’t nothing free nothing in this town for me
How I wish that I could be in Abilene my Abilene, Abilene, Abilene
I sit alone most every night watch those trains pull out of sight
How I wish they were carryin’ me back to Abilene
Sweet Abilene, Abilene, Abilene
Women there don’t treat you mean in Abilene my Abilene
Then I drove through Abilene. I have no idea if the local women are mean or not. But I can tell you Abilene isn’t pretty.
My favorite part of the song is its length, two minutes, and thirteen seconds.
Last Saturday, during my wife, Sue, and daughter, Sara, pulled out a puzzle and started to work. I went over to check it out before I got started reading Simon Sinek’s most recent book, The Infinite Game. I was looking forward to spending time making myself more enlightened. Have the rest of the house doing a puzzle was going to keep them from distracting me from my quest for knowledge.
It didn’t work. The puzzle sucked me in.
A sign on the puzzle referred to Abilene. So, I pointed out the song. Neither of them cared about my song. But Sara, who is in college and majoring in psychology, asked if I was referring to the town from the Abilene Paradox.
I had to admit my knowledge of old country songs was better than my understanding of psychology.
She proceeded to fill me in on the Abilene Paradox. It comes from a 1974 article written by Jerry B. Harvey. (You should google it and find our more).
Let me give you the short version. In the Abilene Paradox, a group of people could all willingly agree to take action together even though none of the individual members of the group agree it is a good idea. The group just goes along with the “groupthink” because nobody is willing to speak up.
Hearing Sara walk me through this story was exciting moments. She gave me a name for one of the biggest problems I face at work. (While it was Jerry B. Harvey, but Sara was the messenger).
I was enlightened. Not by my book but by my daughter.
Eventually, I got around to reading my book, but I was sure glad I stopped to spend a couple of hours on the puzzle.
Things got so out of control, I said thank you and hugged Sara.