Cognitive biases

If our goal is to help people make better choices, it helps to first create better feelings.

~ Seth Godin from, https://seths.blog/2021/07/narrative-and-feelings/

Godin often makes insightful points like this one. But I often wish he’d use his enormous reach to also talk about the other part—

If our goal is to help people make better choices, it helps even more to show them how they can use their rationality. It’s an inbuilt feature of being human—sometimes I’ve argued it is the defining characteristic of being human. It is, in fact, our planetaryily-unique super power. (We have other super-powers, like compassion, which I think may not be unique to humans.)

Yes, as Godin points out, we should create better feelings for others. But how great would each of our lives be if we weren’t governed by our feelings. The goal isn’t to eliminate feelings nor emotions—that’s a dumb idea. The goal is for all the parts of who we each are, to get the appropriate due.

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Faith

The first thing you need to know is that individuals have far more power than ever before in history. […] The second thing you need to know is that the only thing holding you back from becoming the kind of person who changes things is this: Lack of faith. Faith that you can do it. Faith that it’s worth doing. Faith that failure won’t destroy you.

~ Seth Godin from Tribes

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I continue to enjoy the Movers Mindset project for many reasons. In recent months, I’ve been stepping back from the body of work and I keep having the same thought: I think this is really great, but I feel there should be something more useful as a result of all the work. (Useful specifically for me, I mean.) I’m convinced that there are lessons that I’ve missed, or not managed to hold onto; Insights that can only be seen from a perspective that is not within one particular conversation.

So I’ve been tinkering on creating, well, something. I don’t know what it is yet, or how to describe it either. But I have faith that it’s worth trying to create something which enables something new to be extracted from all the conversations I’ve captured.

Some days, I have far more questions than answers to share.

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Ready. Aim. Aim.

If you’re holding back and looking for a reason why, and that reason is replaced by another reason, then… you might be stalling.

~ Seth Godin from, https://seths.blog/2020/11/are-you-stalling/

I’m sure I must have been stalling at some point in my life, but ain’t nobody got time for that now. Sometimes my stalling manifested as frenetic deck-chair arranging when I was actually stalling on the rudder improvement project. Sometimes it manifested as deep, pensive stretches of prodigious cogitation. Now I’m all like: Manifest destiny!

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Listening to comprehend

When you’re in a job interview, a podcast interview, a sales call, a meeting… if we take the approach that this is a test and there’s a right answer, we’re not actually engaging and moving things forward.

~ Seth Godin, from https://seths.blog/2018/08/ignore-the-questions/

In a podcast conversation, if a guest slips into this-is-a-test mode, things get awkward. If I ask, “what’s something people get wrong about you,” the guest will think I’m looking for dirt, and that I want something they’d not want to share. Or worse, they wonder if I already know something, and that I want to drag that skeleton from their closet.

But the sort of conversations I’m interested in sharing are ones where those involved are working together to create something interesting, and which are respectful of the subject. So it’s important to create the environment where the guest naturally treats questions as prompts. It turns out that this is easy to do.

If I honestly want the good sort of conversations, then my actions follow automatically. I share things about myself and doing so invites the other person to share. I take things seriously which conveys that I value the interaction and what I’m hearing. I express my interest directly by asking interesting questions; questions which show the other person I’m generally curious. Overall, I demonstrate that I’m listening because I’m interested, rather than because I want to do something with what I’m about to hear.

I’m listening to comprehend; not listening to respond.

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Prompts and it’s not a test

When you’re in a job interview, a podcast interview, a sales call, a meeting… if we take the approach that this is a test and there’s a right answer, we’re not actually engaging and moving things forward.

~ Seth Godin, from https://seths.blog/2018/08/ignore-the-questions/

In an interview, if a guest slips into this-is-a-test mode, things get awkward. If I ask, “what’s something people get wrong about you,” the guest will think I’m looking for dirt, and that I want something they’d not want to share. Or worse, they wonder if I already know something, and suspect I want to drag that skeleton from their closet.

But the sort of interviews I’m interested in creating are ones where those involved are working together to create something interesting and respectful of the subject. So it’s important to create the environment where the guest naturally treats questions as prompts. It turns out that this is easy to do.

If I honestly want the good sort of interview, then my actions follow automatically. I share things about myself and doing so invites the other person to share. I take things seriously which conveys that I value the interaction and what I’m hearing. I express my interest directly by asking interesting questions; questions which show the other person I’m generally curious. Overall, I demonstrate that I’m listening because I’m interested rather than because I want to do something with what I’m about to hear.

I’m listening to comprehend; not listening to respond nor refute.

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Nice things or echo chamber?

Every once in awhile, someone steps up and makes something better. Much better. When it happens, it’s up to us to stand up and notice it. Which means buying it and consuming it with the very same care that it was created with.

~ Seth Godin, from https://seths.blog/2018/01/why-we-dont-have-nice-things/

I love the sentiment. But I believe it’s actually a Catch-22.

If I create something better—as I believe I have with Movers Mindset—and no one is interested in buying it with the same care, that also means that—by definition—no one else values it the way I do. This leads to Seth’s often talked about “dip,” where one needs to push through the suck from the initial peak of the thrill of the great work, to the second peak of success.

Anyone care to guide me on navigating the dip? How long should I spend in the dip creating work which I think is great, but which no one else values? Face-to-face, people love the project, but yet, no one is interested. No one is buying in.

Constant struggle. Endless frustration. If I was able to stop doing the work, I’d have stopped long ago.

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Renunciation

Renunciation is one of ten trainable qualities known traditionally as the paramis (the others being generosity, resolve, patience, morality, effort, insight, loving-kindness, equanimity and truthfulness).

~ David Cain, from https://www.raptitude.com/2017/11/opting-out/

This feels—perhaps—like a more nuanced version of my, “just say no to everything,” theme for 2019. That may should harsh, but it’s not. I say, “yes,” to many many things. When I try to say, “no,” to everything, I end up saying, “yes,” to only one-many things.

I’m not a Buddhist by any stretch of the imagination. So I’m not about to take up the paramis as an explicit practice. But the idea of actively renouncing things gives me a positive practice; something I can actively do, rather than something I have to avoid doing.

If you have an elephant problem, “don’t think of a pink elephant,” isn’t going to help. “Just say no,”—despite it’s possible utility as a drug use prevention program—isn’t working very well for my problem. So instead, “think of flowers,” works better for the elephant problem.

So maybe, today I can practice keeping space.

Also…

The solution is simple and difficult.

We can turn it off.

If it’s not getting you what you need or want, turn it off for a few hours.

~ Seth Godin, from https://seths.blog/2017/10/the-engine-of-our-discontent/

Hear! Hear! …and, once more, louder for those in the back!

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Are you part of the solution?

If you’re not the customer, you’re the product.

~ Seth Godin, from https://seths.blog/2017/02/nextstep/

This rant from Seth is a couple years old, but it remains as important as ever.

I talk often about the problems with social networks. But what I’m particularly interested in is what, (if anything,) actually works to change people’s minds. I bet you can guess what works: Basically, nothing works.

I wasted a lot of time trying to explain the problems with social networks using facts and rational arguments. You know how far I got with that. One day, I stopped trying to educate and explain, and started trying to plant seeds. Little seeds of inquisition. Little seeds of self-awareness.

How do you feel when you are not on that social network?

And how do you feel after it ate your face for 2 hours?

Do you like the way you look, all hunched over with spine twisted and your face completely facing the ground?

Could you make progress on your dream if you could just find 10 hours of time a week? (As if you only spent 10 hours on social networks this week.)

Hold your phone facing you at arms length. Look just to one side and notice the actual amount of your immediate world which it occupies. How do you feel about only living within that small fraction of your world?

Visualize your death bed. (Go ahead. I’ll wait.) Now begin to list your imagined regrets as you lay dying. (Seriously. I’ll wait.) Which items on your list were related, in any way, to online social networks?

You have Seth’s thoughts. You now have my thoughts. Do you have any thoughts of your own?

Are you part of the problem, or part of the solution?

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Dopamine

On the other hand, if you choose to work inside this messy metaphor, you get the thrill of finding a new path instead of merely following the old one.

~ Seth Godin, from https://seths.blog/2019/06/ahead-of-the-curve/

I was reading recently about ways to add pleasure and enjoyment by simply planning ahead for the more simple things one regularly does. For example, instead of just going out randomly for dinner, plan in the morning to go out for dinner at 6:15 this evening—even if it’s just to your regular, local spot. The anticipation of even a small, normally trivial and unconsidered act, will be pleasurable all day.

Which leads me to wondering about wether one of my problems is that I too often rush ahead. If I have an idea for a project, since I’ve a tremendous amount of freedom to choose what I do on a daily basis, there’s no reason (so my thinking goes,) that I shouldn’t just start on it right now. …and of course once I’ve started, I may as well sprint all the way through, and reveal my creation fully formed.

Except, there was no anticipation between the idea and the execution.

I already, intentionally do not act on a lot of ideas. (My motto for 2019 is, “no.”) But what if I intentionally begin to not act yet on my ideas to which I’ve said yes. If an idea is so great, it will certainly be there tomorrow. (I see now that there’s also an element of impulse control involved here.) Tomorrow—or next week—when I come back to the idea and find it still very interesting, then it might be time to schedule some time to work on it. Then let that sit for a few more days, and so on.

Some interesting food for thought. I’ll think about this some more tomorrow.

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