Tagged in: Thinking

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Know What You Believe In

Know what you believe in.

When times get hard, when threats or opportunities or temptations arise, know what you believe in.

Some beliefs are easy, trivial, commonplace. Others are more controversial or nuanced, unique to yourself, your family, your organisation.

Evaluate your beliefs, record them. Return to them frequently because when the situation is stressful or diverting it’s all too easy to forget what you believe in. And that’s when your beliefs are most important.

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The Head and Shoulders Effect

The Head and Shoulders effect. I named this after the 90s TV adverts for the shampoo. Their tagline was “I never knew you had dandruff.” In the adverts, one surprised individual asks their well-coiffed friend why they are using an anti-dandruff shampoo when they clearly don’t have dandruff.

More generally, the question might look like: why are you taking a preventative measure for something I didn’t realise needed preventative measures?

It always struck me as wrong and illogical as a question (but great advertising if you look at their sales results).

Recently, I’ve come across this style of question in real life (adverts don’t count as real life, despite what they want us to believe). I’ve been asked why I was watching what I was eating since I was already slim. The answer is that I’m slim because I watch what I eat (mostly…).

I think the Head and Shoulders effect nicely illustrates confirmation bias: our tendency to interpret information in a way that tends to confirm our beliefs.

There’s a darker angle to confirmation bias. I see this as the flip-side of the Head and Shoulders effect: “I’m taking measures, why aren’t I seeing results.”

I think the answer – and the problem – here is that sometimes we shouldn’t be comparing our progress to where we were at the start of the journey but to where we would be today if we hadn’t chosen to make a change.

For example, it’s very easy for me to feel bad about the slow progress I’ve had trying to improve my running fitness but if I instead think where I would be if I hadn’t done any training at all suddenly it’s obvious what the value is.

I think today’s lesson is to be kind to ourselves by realising that we can’t always directly measure the impact of our efforts because we can’t know what would have happened if we hadn’t tried, and to treat ourselves to a great shampoo.

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Thinking Outside of the Cave

Where are you most creative? Where do you do your best thinking?

Where do you spend your time? Where do you go to solve complex problems?

Are you desk- or office-bound? What about your team if you have one?

The idea for this post came to me originally when I was running on a treadmill. I forgot about it for a while but I kept remembering it when I was in the shower.

I seem to be at my most creative when walking outside or when taking a shower. I solve problems best in front of a big whiteboard. Yet I spend all day sat on my bum.

It’s easy, inoffensive and conventional to spend hours sat at a desk. That doesn’t make it right (or healthy, but that’s a different topic).

Today, my Path to Awesome is to be more aware and respectful of my own needs for appropriate creative space, and those of my team. How about you?