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Bias For Clarity

Bias for action. Gets things done. Go-getter. Traits companies big and small look for. And for good reason, you're being hired to do things! However, action is a secondary step that often overshadows the primary step, direction.   Clear direction is the foundation that enables our actions to takeoff. Without it, we're stuck in the mud.  Striving for clarity is an underrated skill. Having the courage to ask ( seemingly ) obvious questions, and to check in, making sure we're all on the same page. "O bvious " questions are a low risk, high reward way to add value. At worst, you'll add confidence to our actions. At best, you discover a misalignment that saves us from a dead-end.  The more people, the more clear we need to be. The bigger the initiative, the bigger the risk of reaching the finish line, only to realize expectations were off.  Success is always uncertain. But we can be certain about what we want and what everyone's job is. Things that can be clea

Negative Feedback, Positive Lessons

In the battle against plastic bags, a five-cent tax was shown to be much more successful at deterring usage than a five-cent credit for bringing your own bags. Carrots satisfy but sticks sting, and they sting hard. So we default to the less painful choice of avoiding loss. Loss aversion impacts the way we process information. A 2019 study  invited participants to learn through a series of multiple choice questions. Each question only had two options to choose from. Whether guessing correctly or not, they would still learn the right answer.  Despite the identical learning opportunity, participants were much more successful at recalling the answers they guessed correctly than those they got wrong.  "You're right!" feels good. We savour the moment, analyzing every detail.  "You're wrong!" stings. We want to quickly forget, dismiss, and move on.  When we succumb to loss aversion, we miss opportunities to learn. Failure is part of the process. We'll experie

Step One is Knowing

In school, we listen to our teachers. At home, our parents. Throughout our childhood, following instructions is praised and rewarded. When we're young, there's value in this. We don't understand how the world works quite yet, so guidance can be lifesaving.  The bias to just accept obviously has drawbacks. Insert old jumping off a bridge adage .  This conditioning is especially strong for kids from lower income households. Their parents are more likely in working class jobs involving strict order-taking. Parents of middle-class households tend to be knowledge workers where influence is essential.  Studies have shown kids from middle-income households are more willing to negotiable with their teachers. They learn from their parents that things are not set in stone. This leads to better grades and learning outcomes when compared to their lower income counterparts who don't negotiable.  In business, if we simply accept things as they are, we would never innovate. In work, w

Starting Really Really Small

On your desk is one of the most intimidating sights known to man. A blank page. The prospect of filling it up with anything resembling decent seems insurmountable. Staring at the long road ahead fills you with anxiety and dread.  The first step is the most difficult. So we procrastinate. We " research ", we " prep ", we " plan ". We do everything except tackling the problem. We avoid the pain for as long as we can.  To make a blank page less intimidating. Tear it in half. There, half as scary, twice as easy. Still too much? Do it again. And again. Keep doing it until the task is so small that it's too easy not to do.  Getting starting is the hardest part. So make the hardest part as easy as possible. This doesn't guarantee amazing results, but it gets you in the game. You can't win if you don't play.  

Taking Your Time: Presenting & Pausing

Time flies when you're having also slows when you're not. Hours with friends zoom by in what feel like minutes. Minutes on a bad Zoom crawl by in what feel like hours. This is the relative nature of time.  When we're fearful (or dreading), our brain comes on full alert. Paying attention to every little detail to ensure our survival. We enter slow-motion mode. If you've ever slipped, you've enter this time warp.  Public speaking is notoriously fear-inducing. The judgement, the potential for failure, embarrassment. A five-minute presentation feels much longer. Everything slows down, including your perception of talking speed. This is why the best (and most common) piece of advice for new speakers is to slow down. We talk too fast. Appearing nervous and making it difficult for the audience to keep up.  The audience's experience is the opposite. There's no stress in watching. No nerves, no fear. Time moves faster for them. This creates an interesting de