One, time corrupts memory. When recalled, we often exaggerate or understate what exactly happened. This was seen clearly when 9/11 survivors told the things that never happened to the media, that’s why so many rumors and gossip have cropped up. Second, we are poor long-term decision-makers. The brain has a ‘Now bias’, that is only to think of short-term consequences and effects and nudge us to do things that give fruits at this moment. The serious long-term effects are thrown away and never shown to us in the fullest sense, hence we often procrastinate or ignore important tasks and do silly things that usually won’t matter down the line.
A lot many people and especially so-called successful people usually downplay the hard work they have put in or over-exaggerate the effort that went into it but no one hits the sweet spot per se. This creates either anxiety or gifts overconfidence to the listeners. It is understandable that it is subjective and cannot be captured by words. However, deliberate misguidance is dangerous and toxic which is done by the biographies written under the handheld mentoring of marketing and PR agencies.
Next time the founder of a start-up says his/her story, take it with caution. The garage origin stories are all usually lies.
The one thing
In mathematics, multiplying by zero gives us a zero. No matter how complex the multiplication is, if in the end it is multiplied by a zero, we end up with a zero. It’s a powerful metaphor that we can apply in life. Even if we take high-value productive choices consecutively like acing tests, going to a top-tier university, learning life and job skills, taking good enough risks, and landing up with a good enough business to take care of, one bad choice like the zero will spoil everything and make the pack of cards fall just like that. It could be doing drugs or cheating or stealing and selling the company’s secrets, one wrong friendship, or something else. The point is one thing if it has the good potential can blow up everything that one has built thus far. Thus, beware of the zero.
Boiling frog syndrome
Small, steady, and incremental changes are often ignored and tend to go unnoticed. If someone takes away 1$ every day for 365 days from our bank then it doesn’t matter to us and it is not attention-worthy enough. We step into action or focus only when 365$ is taken away in a single day even though the quantum of the amount is the same except for the time. The frog too as the myth says jumps out of a pot filled with boiling water but stays comfortably in normal water even though we slowly raise the temperature to a boiling point that might kill it.
Size and Decision
If there are 10 options before us, then suppose we have picked option number 3. Here we can easily judge and evaluate whether we opted for the right one or not. In other words, we can say how good our picking was based on a comparison with the other 9 options. (Assuming that you have a decent amount of time on your hands)
However, if there is an overload in a number of options, probably 10 million or so then we can never know whether our decision was accurate or not. we can only at best assume that we made a smart choice. As the sample size (Using the lingo of statistics here) increases, our ability to decide decreases, and the analysis falter. Unless we have a supercomputer in our heads, it is hard as we progress into the information age. Big data and AI will aid us for sure but a common man or an ordinary individual (not organizations) neither have the resources nor the technical know-how under the belt to do so.
Unable to handle this gap, the mind invents more heuristics, shortcuts, use-less logical fallacies, and unknown biases which hide in the Freudian unconscious rarely accessible to 6-7 seconds attention-owning sapiens.
Exceptions should not be used to dismiss sound arguments. Yes, the chain smokers lived till 98, Yes, the alcoholics
reached full life expectancy, Yes, the guy didn’t study and got straight A’s, Yes, toxic work culture gave huge profits for the company, Yes, eating high-fat foods didn’t give the heart attack, Yes, all these things did happen.
There’s no doubt about that but they do not in any way nullify the general rules and principles. Believing contrarily is the perfect example of anecdotal fallacy.
By the way, high-school drop-outs have become billionaires but it doesn’t mean you drop out of it now.
Heraclitus, an ancient greek philosopher commented that life is always in flux. He was simply pointing out that nothing
is permanent in life. In other words, this too shall pass. Marcus Aurelius too in Meditations noted that everything is
destined to change, to be transformed so that new things are born. The wheel moves is what the wise have noted.
But, yes there is a but to almost everything. As people age, they seldom welcome change. The older we get, the more stubborn we become. Everything is about ego when the bald head and bottomed belly kick in. When someone targets our political party, we target them. If some random teenager mocks your favorite movie, then you are ready for a fight. In fact, a lot of us become conservative and believe superstitions, stupid medicines, and rumors that even tabloids are envious of. As we age, our ability to welcome change with open hands decreases. At least, we should be able to acknowledge this.
Black and White thinking
We find it hard to accept that we don’t fall on extremes. If you are not a genius then it doesn’t mean you are stupid.
we probably fall somewhere in between them. Likewise, you are not a complete failure if you haven’t got
the so-called success. A person too is not completely bad or entirely good, most people fall into grey zones.
we commonly fall prey to this when we usually do some math. It’s not like you either know the solution or you do not.
The answer is in the middle. The first 50 meters of the road are visible, not the entire highway. But we need to enter
the dark territory of the unknown. However, eventually, something clicks, probably some theorem in geometry or rule in algebra and it’s solved.
In common relationships too, no one absolutely hates you (Unless you have seriously hurt them which is altogether a different ball game) or loves you to the core of your being/existence. we like each other in parts and pieces. It’s
not weird and we do it unconsciously all the time. We watch just the fight scenes of a movie and skip the rest. Listen only to starting 30 seconds of a song and remove it from the playlist.
The “All or Nothing” doesn’t work. By the way, technically it is called Polarized or Dichotomous thinking. Avoid this cognitive distortion.
Before deciding something, first, check whether your preconceived notions and assumptions are true or not.
For instance, when everybody assumed that people cannot listen to 3-4 hour-long podcasts, Joe Rogan stopped
and challenged this belief. He asked the question what if the opposite were true?
Henry Ford used to emphasize this thinking a lot. In fact, if a candidate when taken on lunch by him
automatically puts in salt and pepper without first tasting the soup then he used to reject them as the employee
assumed that chef hasn’t put in the right proportion based on some hunch or previous non-relatable experience from
a different restaurant.
Likewise, we assume that a person isn’t valuing our friendship or some sort of relationship when he might be
plainly busy or stuck on a deadline to finish a project. In businesses also, don’t assume that customers
don’t want your premium product or service when instead your marketing was poor and most of them do not know about it.