David Burns’ insightful book “Feeling Good” reminds us that labeling ourselves is both self-defeating and irrational. We are complex, constantly changing organisms that will never fully fit one label – and even if we do that would soon change.
A useful analogy is to think of ourselves more like flowing rivers than statues.
The trouble with much of our public discourse is that even people with good intentions don’t see the difference in one important distinction: Wanting to be right, vs. wanting to know IF you’re right.
One is for truth-seekers (whatever “truth” you’re seeking). The other is for those who are absolutely certain that there is no way of viewing the world other than the way that they’ve decided is correct.
Anchoring or focalism is a cognitive bias that describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered (the “anchor”) when making decisions. During decision-making, anchoring occurs when individuals use an initial piece of information to make subsequent judgments.
How to use: be mindful of the FIRST thing you say/do when meeting someone, in job interviews, in sales pitches, etc.
“I’m Steve and I’m sometimes hard to get along with but I love all people” can be effectively heard as “I’m sometimes hard to get along with blah blah blah.”
Something “bad” happens. A metaphorical fire has started. As humans, we have the ability to choose how/if we react.
So the question is: will you respond with gasoline or water? A useful heuristic for children and adults alike.
Gary Vaynerchuck has an insightful book called “Jab, jab, jab, right hook”, the premise of which is to engage your audience/fans/clients by giving three times before asking or requesting anything. Josh Spector has a creative idea challenging us to make one out of every three social media posts highlight and praise other people.
Imagine a world where the ratio was skewed more in favor of “how can I elevate and support you?” than “what can you do for me?”
Most people spend their lives being dutiful descendants instead of remarkable ancestors. Each generation has the choice to aim to please their predecessors or improve things for their offspring. Many people who were the most positive influences on humanity did not blindly follow in their parent’s footsteps.
In the words of Japanese poet, Matsuo Basho: “Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the old. Seek what they sought.”
You can strive to make previous generations proud, or endeavor to make the world better for the next.
As I read through business contracts, health care benefits explanations, and even news stories, I wonder if there’s a way to adopt a concept that seeks to radically simplify what is being presented, perhaps in a way that any could quickly comprehend the most honest yet consequential portion of what we’re explaining.
TLDR; Let’s use as few words as possible to convey information responsibly and with (radical) simplicity.
As appealing and status-raising as it may seem, you will never look good for making someone else look bad. The opposite is also true.
Incidentally, one of the most flattering ways to compliment someone is by saying sincere, favorable things about them to other people.
Care more than most think is wise.
Risk more than most think is safe.
Dream more than most think is practical.
Expect more than most believe is possible.
Our never-give-up culture motivates us to continue doing things that don’t serve us lest we feel like quitters. But it’s wise to stop doing what isn’t working.
One focusing question when you consider stopping something is: knowing what I now know if I had the choice to start this today from scratch (hire this person, make this investment, choose this partner, obtain an advanced degree…) would I do it?
If the answer is a clear no, don’t fall prey to the sunk cost fallacy – the idea that because you “invested” time in something you should see it through.