Remember those arguments in which you’re hollering at your partner, parent or sibling, and then, in the midst of it, both of you simply burst out laughing? You both know how silly and irrational the whole thing is. Well, irrationality doesn’t stop there. There are parts of us, bits of leftover, residual psychology, carried with us from childhood. These old habits, fears and complexes were forged in us when we were young. This mirrors what software developers (borrowing from the writer Arthur Koestler) call “ghosts in the machine,” referring to bits of outmoded code dormant in the current version of a program. While it was once useful in the program’s development, this defunct coding can interfere with current operations. For the author, his own bit of defunct coding can be traced to his childhood in Queens. As a boy, he’d watch his father sit at the table and obsessively correct all the typos in the newspaper, as a way to take charge of something in a life marked by the powerlessness that comes with poverty. As the author grew up, he noticed how, much like his father, he would pedantically correct colleagues, picking at them for the slightest things. It was a form of hypervigilance that occasionally served him well, but also caused professional tensions. Well, we all have these ghosts in the machine – every one of us. This irrationality, with its irritating habits, complexes and fears, is everywhere. We’re essentially messy, asymmetrical beings. And to survive our professional lives, we have to accept this fact about ourselves, and about the people we work with. For instance, the author coached a business partnership, a man and woman who couldn’t stand each other but needed each other professionally. As he interviewed them, he found that, deep down, the man reminded the woman of her father, and the woman reminded the man of his mother. They’d been drawn together as business students, many years ago, and were now driving each other nuts. They’d both unconsciously replicated patterns and old complexes. Now, to survive as a business partnership, they needed to accept this bit of old coding. Rather than storming out of meetings and hollering at each other, they learned mindfulness. They learned how each of them was complicit in this dynamic. And guess what? They overcame it.