Typically when faced with an uncertainty, we don’t carefully evaluate the information or look for facts and statistics. Instead, in making decisions we use biases and shortcuts that are hardwired into our thinking process. These shortcuts can be dangerous because they create blind spots … so we fail to recognize them as we fall into a trap of faulty thinking.
Daniel Kahneman in his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow gives a great example, a simple arithmetic question: A bat and ball cost a dollar and ten cents. The bat costs a dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
If you are like most people you respond quickly and confidently, and tell me that the ball costs ten cents.
Well that answer is both obvious and wrong.
(The correct answer is five cents for the ball and a dollar and five cents for the bat.)
Your answer used some mental shortcuts that aren’t a faster way of doing the math … they’re a way of skipping the math altogether.
At every stage of your decision making process you run into misperceptions, inaccurate frames of reference, biases, and other blind spots that can distort the choices you make.
Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he finally succeeded.
Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lack of ideas. Disney also went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland.
Imagine how our lives would have been different if they had not learned from the failure.
When you embrace learning you actually become smarter.This process starts with asking questions and openly sharing about your fears, successes, failures, risks, etc.
Take a play from my What Were You Thinking Playbook that I call the Right Questions Run . This tool will help you to embrace learning, ask questions and uncover your blind spots.
Write down your thoughts for each of the next three steps and the move you will make for each.
Step 1: Ask – “What don’t I know?”
This week ask and admit you don’t know something. Then become a learner. Start with the Internet, the bookstore, the library, or a friend – the answers to most of the world’s problems are there – you just need to be open to learning.
Step 2: Ask, “I’m wondering if you can help me.”
This week admit and ask for the help you need. Then diversify your thinking by asking for help with those outside your organization or immediate circle of influence. Most successful people will help you if you ask them. Value their time and pay them for it if necessary.
Step 3: Ask, “What can I try this week that may fail – but that I can and will learn from it?”
Just do it. You are going to make lots of mistakes in your life, and some of them hurt yourself and others. Try something that you know will likely fail. From this you will get smarter – GUARANTEED. The more you can learn from relatively painless mistakes, the less likely you are to commit the awful kind that can really hurt.
Let me add a couple more questions to round out the play.
What am I pretending not to know? All possibilities open up when we stop deceiving ourselves. For example do you really not know how to save money, lose weight, have a more loving relationship? If you really don’t know – then go back up to Steps 1, 2, and 3 above and figure it out. If you do know, then after writing them down in the space provided, continue to the next question.
Why don’t I do the things I know I should be doing? Life isn’t always about figuring out what to do. The real challenge can be simply doing the things we know we should be doing. What should you be doing that you’ve been pretending you don’t know how to do?
What techniques and strategies are you using to help ensure that the way you are framing a problem doesn’t prevent you from solving it? Are you asking the right questions to get the right answers?
More articles on thinking differently to achieve uncommon results:
- The Five Most Common Self-Limiting Beliefs
- Perception of Reality is Everything
- Ask the Wrong Question... Get the Wrong Answer
Founder and CEO, Sententia
A professional speaker and gamification designer, Monica Cornetti is rated as the #1 Gamification Guru in the World by UK-Based Leaderboarded. She is the author of the book Totally Awesome Training Activity Guide: Put Gamification to Work for You, writes The Gamification Report blog, and hosts the weekly Gamification Talk Radio program.