the crisis of love

There is a true story of a little boy whose sister needed a blood transfusion. The doctor explained that she had the same disease the boy had recovered from two years earlier. Her only chance of recovery was a transfusion from someone who had previously conquered the disease. Since the two children had the same rare blood type, the boy was an ideal donor.

“Would you give your blood to Mary?” the doctor asked.

Johnny hesitated. His lower lip started to tremble. Then he smiled and said, “Sure, for my sister.”

Soon the two children were wheeled into the hospital room. Mary, pale and thin. Johnny, robust and healthy. Neither spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny grinned.

As the nurse inserted the needle into his arm, Johnny’s smile faded. He watched the blood flow through the tube.

With the ordeal almost over, Johnny’s voice, slightly shaky, broke the silence.

“Doctor, when do I die?”

Only then did the doctor realize why Johnny had hesitated, why his lip had trembled when he agreed to donate his blood. He thought giving his blood to his sister would mean giving up his life. In that brief moment, he had made his great decision. Johnny faced a “crisis of love”. He won the test and experienced love at the deepest level.

David Needham, Close to His Majesty

Risk aversion kills innovation

The secret killer of innovation is shame. You can't measure it, but it is there. Every time someone holds back on a new idea, fails to give their manager must needed feedback, and is afraid to speak up in front of a client you can be sure that shame played a part. That deep fear we all have of being wrong, of being belittled and of feeling less than, is what stops us taking the very risks required to move our companies forward.

If you want a culture of creativity and innovation, where sensible risks are embraced on both a market and individual level, start by developing the ability of managers to cultivate an openness to vulnerability in their teams. And this, paradoxically perhaps, requires first that they are vulnerable themselves.

This notion that the leader needs to be “in charge” and to “know all the answers” is both dated and destructive. Its impact on others I the sense that they know less, and that they are less than. A recipe for risk aversion if ever I have heard it. Shame becomes fear. Fear leads to risk aversion . Risk aversion kills innovation.

Peter Sheaham

Fearing Outsiders

"It’s what we call an over-exclusion bias," Mina Cikara, a Harvard psychologist who studies intergroup conflict, said. When you start fearing others "your circle of who you counted as friends is going to shrink. And that means those people outside of the bounds get less empathy, get fewer resources." It also means you become more vigilant and obsessed with marking who is an insider and who is not. "You want to draw those boundaries brighter, so you don’t make any mistakes about who you want to share your resources with or who you want to trust," she says.

Brian Resnick writing in Vox

Overcoming an Aversion to Loss

Most of us don’t like losing. In fact, it’s what the academics call loss aversion. We feel the pain of loss more acutely than we feel the pleasure of gain. In other words, we may like to win, but we hate to lose.

The psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky showed that even something as simple as a coin toss demonstrates our aversion to loss. In a recent interviews, Mr. Kahneman shared the usual response he gets to his offer of a coin toss:

“In my classes, I say: ‘I’m going to toss a coin, and if it’s tails, you lose $10. How much would you have to gain on winning in order for this gamble to be acceptable to you?’

“People want more than $20 before it is acceptable. And now I’ve been doing the same thing with executives or very rich people, asking about tossing a coin and losing $10,000 if it’s tails. And they want $20,000 before they’ll take the gamble.”

In other words, we’re willing to leave a lot of money on the table to avoid the possibility of losing.

We see this aversion to loss play out in the lives of real people when we try to make smart money decisions, especially when it’s time to make a change to our investments. It almost doesn’t matter what change we need to make. We hesitate to change from the current situation because it means having an opinion and making a decision. And with a decision comes the very real possibility that we’ll make the wrong one. Sticking with the status quo feels much better even if we know it’s costing us money.

To get past our aversion to loss, I recommend taking the Overnight Test.

Imagine you went to bed, and overnight someone sold your losing stock and replaced it with cash. The next morning, you have a choice: You can buy back the stock for the same price, or you can take that cash and (do something else with it). What would you do?

Most people wouldn’t buy the stock back.

Just by changing your perspective (investing cash versus getting rid of the stock), you can gain clarity and have the emotional space to make the decision you know you need to make.

Sometimes, that’s all it takes. While we’ll probably never embrace loss, it’s good to know that we can find ways to work around our aversion to it when it makes sense.

Carl Richards writing in the New York Times

 

Overcome Your Status Quo Bias by Reversing the Situation

Should you stay or should you go? Status quo bias is our tendency to, when presented with a choice, prefer the current scenario as opposed to making a change. You can account for this natural bias by reversing the situation and the direction of change.

Status quo bias stems from a variety of human tendencies. A natural fear of change, our preference for familiarity, and laziness, all contribute. It's not our friend, either: Status quo bias contributes to many poorly thought decisions (like our tendency to overspend on big purchases).

Consider this: would you take a $13,000 wage increase to relocate to another city? Most people would say no. Yet consider the opposite: If you were living in another city, would you take a $13,000 wage decrease to move back to this one?

You can apply this reversal heuristic to smaller decisions, too. For example, instead of wondering whether you should spend a dollar for a chocolate bar, you could ask yourself whether you'd be willing to receive a dollar for skipping a chocolate bar for the day.

This quick reversal is a simpler version of the Reversal Test, a mental tool philosophers use to account for status quo bias.

Herbert Lui writing in LifeHacker

Fear that we are missing out on something

We overschedule our days and complain constantly about being too busy. We shop endlessly for stuff we don’t need and then feel oppressed by the clutter that surrounds us. We rarely sleep well or enough. We compare our bodies to the artificial ones we see in magazines and our lives to the exaggerated ones we see on television. We watch cooking shows and then eat fast food. We worry ourselves sick and join gyms we don’t visit. We keep up with hundreds of acquaintances but rarely see our best friends. We bombard ourselves with video clips and emails and instant messages. We even interrupt our interruptions.

And at the heart of it, for so many, is fear—fear that we are missing out on something. Wherever we are, someone somewhere is doing or seeing or eating or listening to something better.

I’m eager to escape from this way of living. And if enough of us escape, the world will be better for it.

Will Schwalbe,  Books for Living

the Mask of Guilt

The fear of repeating a wrong or a fear of repeating past failures can produce an anxiety that can be mistaken for lingering guilt. Rising to meet even the simplest of expectations can be difficult. We become angry at ourselves and guilt-ridden. The bar is so low. Why can't rise above it?  But guilt isn't the culprit. Fear wears the mask of guilt, fooling us into wearing its chains.

Stephen Goforth

stomping of the foot (before storming out of class)

I'll never forget the student who charged out of one of my first philosophy classes. The professor had challenged the student's view of religion and the young man stomped his foot, turned red, yelled, and left the room.

Why such an emotional outburst? Perhaps his beliefs were built on a weak foundation. A little rhetoric from an authority figure threatened to topple the structure. When we accept the conclusions of other people, never figuring out the "why" for ourselves, weak lay a weak foundation. Should we intentionally avoid opposing view points? It turns out we naturally steer clear of conflict.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found the less certain you are about what you believe, the more likely you’ll stay away from opposing viewpoints (and freak out when you run across opposing opinion). After reviewing nearly 100 studies, they came to the conclusion that people tend minimize their exposure when they are less certain and less confident in their own position. In fact, we're nearly twice as likely to completely avoid differing opinions than we are to give consideration to different ideas. For those who are close-minded the percentage jumps even higher. Three-out-of-four times the close-minded person will stick to what supports their own conclusions. Details of the study are in the Psychological Bulletin by Researchers.

Stephen Goforth

the risk of independence

All life itself represents a risk, and the more lovingly we live our lives the more risks we take. Of the thousands, maybe even millions, of risks we can take in a lifetime the greatest is the risk of growing up. Growing up is the act of stepping from childhood into adulthood. Actually it is more of a fearful leap than a step, and it is a leap that many people never really take in their lifetimes. Though they may outwardly appear to be adults, even successful adults, perhaps the majority of “grown-ups” remain until their death psychological children who have never truly separated themselves from their parents and the power that their parents have over them.

M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

Here are the Rules

When someone gives you rules for your relationship whether explicitly or implied (“We can only talk about these subjects and not those subjects over there” or “We will only go to these places together” or “Only contact me in this particular way”) you have to decide whether this comes out of a legitimate concern to keep the relationship in a healthy place or whether it’s an attempt to control you-prompted by insecurity and fear. In other words, is this a request that you become co-conspirators in hiding from painful truths about the person making the request?

Stephen Goforth

Imagineering

A child responds to the game of kissing away a hurt or throwing away a fear. This simple process works for the child because in his mind he believes that that is actually the end of it. The dramatic act is a fact for him and so it proves to be the end of the matter.

Imagination is a source of fear, but imagination may also be the cure of fear. “Imagineering” is the use of mental images to build factual results, and it is an astonishingly effective procedure. Visualize your fears being drained out of your mind and the visualization will in due course be actualized. Imagine yourself as reaching into your mind and one by one removing your worries.

However, it is not enough to empty the mind, for the mind will not long remain empty. It must be occupied by something. It cannot continue in a stat of vacuum. Therefore, upon emptying the mind, practice refilling it. Fill it with thought of faith, hope, courage, expectancy.

A half-dozen times each day crowd your mind with such thoughts as those until the mind is overflowing with them. In due course these thoughts of faith will crowd out worry. Day by day, as you fill your mind with faith, there will ultimately be no room left for fear.

Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking

Hiding from Ourselves

We avoid endings whenever possible, and we steer clear whenever we can of the neutral-zone emptiness Endings feel like failure to us, and at a deeper level. So we use the busyness and structure and status of work and family life to hide ending it from view. Believing in doing so that if we just keep adding and adding to what we have, we’ll end up with something new and will avoid the need to make any endings.

But it is not just endings that we fear. The aloneness and emptiness that are often felt in the neutral zone are just about as fearful for many modern people as endings are. Whenever we can’t see that anything is happening—and you usually can’t in the neutral zone—we doubt that anything can “really” be going on.

We fail to see that real new beginnings, the kind that revitalize and inaugurate a new order of things, come out of that chaotic neutral zone.

William Bridges, The Way of Transition

Expect the best!

Expect the best at all times. Never think of the worst. Drop it out of your thought, relegate it. Let there be no thought in your mind that the worst will happen. Avoid entertaining the concept of the worst, for whatever you take into your mind can grow there. Therefore, take the best into your mind and only that. Nurture it, concentrate on it, emphasize it, visualize it, prayerize it, surround it with faith. Make it your obsession. Expect the best, and spiritually creative mind power aided by God power produce the best.

Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking

The Secret of Success

Survivorship bias pulls you toward bestselling diet gurus, celebrity CEOs, and superstar athletes. You look to the successful for clues about the hidden, about how to better live your life, about how you too can survive similar forces against which you too struggle. Colleges and conferences prefer speakers who shine as examples of making it through adversity, of struggling against the odds and winning.

The problem here is that you rarely take away from these inspirational figures advice on what not to do, on what you should avoid, and that’s because they don’t know. Information like that is lost along with the people who don’t make it out of bad situations or who don’t make it on the cover of business magazines – people who don’t get invited to speak at graduations and commencements and inaugurations.

The actors who traveled from Louisiana to Los Angeles only to return to Louisiana after a few years don’t get to sit next to James Lipton and watch clips of their Oscar-winning performances as students eagerly gobble up their crumbs of wisdom.

In short, the advice business is a monopoly run by survivors. As the psychologist Daniel Kahneman writes in his book Thinking Fast and Slow, “A stupid decision that works out well becomes a brilliant decision in hindsight.” Before you emulate the history of a famous company, Kahneman says, you should imagine going back in time when that company was just getting by and ask yourself if the outcome of its decisions were in any way predictable. If not, you are probably seeing patterns in hindsight where there was only chaos in the moment. He sums it up like so, “If you group successes together and look for what makes them similar, the only real answer will be luck.”

Entrepreneur Jason Cohen, in writing about survivorship bias, points out that since we can’t go back in time and start 20 identical Starbucks across the planet, we can never know if that business model is the source of the chain’s immense popularity or if something completely random and out of the control of the decision makers led to a Starbucks on just about every street corner in North America. That means you should be skeptical of any book promising you the secrets of winning at the game of life through following any particular example.

David McRaney Read more here

Survivor Bias

You must remind yourself that when you start to pick apart winners and losers, successes and failures, the living and dead, that by paying attention to one side of that equation you are always neglecting the other.

If you are thinking about opening a restaurant because there are so many successful restaurants in your hometown, you are ignoring the fact the only successful restaurants survive to become examples. Maybe on average 90 percent of restaurants in your city fail in the first year. You can’t see all those failures because when they fail they also disappear from view. As Nassim Taleb writes in his book The Black Swan, “The cemetery of failed restaurants is very silent.”

Of course the few that don’t fail in that deadly of an environment are wildly successful because only the very best and the very lucky can survive. All you are left with are super successes, and looking at them day after day you might think it’s a great business to get into when you are actually seeing evidence that you should avoid it.

Survivorship bias pulls you toward bestselling diet gurus, celebrity CEOs, and superstar athletes. You look to the successful for clues about the hidden, about how to better live your life, about how you too can survive similar forces against which you too struggle. Colleges and conferences prefer speakers who shine as examples of making it through adversity, of struggling against the odds and winning.

The problem here is that you rarely take away from these inspirational figures advice on what not to do, on what you should avoid, and that’s because they don’t know. Information like that is lost along with the people who don’t make it out of bad situations or who don’t make it on the cover of business magazines – people who don’t get invited to speak at graduations and commencements and inaugurations.

The actors who traveled from Louisiana to Los Angeles only to return to Louisiana after a few years don’t get to sit next to James Lipton and watch clips of their Oscar-winning performances as students eagerly gobble up their crumbs of wisdom. In short, the advice business is a monopoly run by survivors. As the psychologist Daniel Kahneman writes in his book Thinking Fast and Slow, “A stupid decision that works out well becomes a brilliant decision in hindsight.”

Before you emulate the history of a famous company, Kahneman says, you should imagine going back in time when that company was just getting by and ask yourself if the outcome of its decisions were in any way predictable. If not, you are probably seeing patterns in hindsight where there was only chaos in the moment. He sums it up like so, “If you group successes together and look for what makes them similar, the only real answer will be luck.”

Entrepreneur Jason Cohen, in writing about survivorship bias, points out that since we can’t go back in time and start 20 identical Starbucks across the planet, we can never know if that business model is the source of the chain’s immense popularity or if something completely random and out of the control of the decision makers led to a Starbucks on just about every street corner in North America. That means you should be skeptical of any book promising you the secrets of winning at the game of life through following any particular example.

David McRaney Read more here

How to be lucky in life

According to psychologist Richard Wiseman, luck – bad or good – is just what you call the results of a human beings consciously interacting with chance, and some people are better at interacting with chance than others.

Over the course of 10 years, Wiseman followed the lives of 400 subjects of all ages and professions. He found them after he placed ads in newspapers asking for people who thought of themselves as very lucky or very unlucky. He had them keep diaries and perform tests in addition to checking in on their lives with interviews and observations. In one study, he asked subjects to look through a newspaper and count the number of photographs inside. The people who labeled themselves as generally unlucky took about two minutes to complete the task. The people who considered themselves as generally lucky took an average of a few seconds. Wiseman had placed a block of text printed in giant, bold letters on the second page of the newspaper that read, “Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” Deeper inside, he placed a second block of text just as big that read, “Stop counting, tell the experimenter you have seen this and win $250.” The people who believed they were unlucky usually missed both.

Wiseman speculated that what we call luck is actually a pattern of behaviors that coincide with a style of understanding and interacting with the events and people you encounter throughout life. Unlucky people are narrowly focused, he observed. They crave security and tend to be more anxious, and instead of wading into the sea of random chance open to what may come, they remain fixated on controlling the situation, on seeking a specific goal. As a result, they miss out on the thousands of opportunities that may float by. Lucky people tend to constantly change routines and seek out new experiences. Wiseman saw that the people who considered themselves lucky, and who then did actually demonstrate luck was on their side over the course of a decade, tended to place themselves into situations where anything could happen more often and thus exposed themselves to more random chance than did unlucky people. The lucky try more things, and fail more often, but when they fail they shrug it off and try something else. Occasionally, things work out.

David McRaney -read more here