Lies our Culture Tells Us

College mental health facilities are swamped, suicide rates are spiking, the president’s repulsive behavior is tolerated or even celebrated by tens of millions of Americans. At the root of it all is the following problem: We’ve created a culture based on lies.    

(Among them:) Rich and successful people are worth more than poorer and less successful people. We pretend we don’t tell this lie, but our whole meritocracy points to it. The message of the meritocracy is that you are what you accomplish. The false promise of the meritocracy is that you can earn dignity by attaching yourself to prestigious brands. The emotion of the meritocracy is conditional love — that if you perform well, people will love you.      

No wonder it’s so hard to be a young adult today. No wonder our society is fragmenting. We’ve taken the lies of hyper-individualism and we’ve made them the unspoken assumptions that govern how we live.

David Brooks writing in The New York Times

Your coworkers are better at rating some parts of your personality

Sixteen rigorous studies of thousands of people at work have shown that people’s coworkers are better than they are at recognizing how their personality will affect their job performance. As a social scientist, if I want to get a read on your personality, I could ask you to fill out a survey on how stable, dependable, friendly, outgoing, and curious you are. But I would be much better off asking your coworkers to rate you on those same traits: They’re often more than twice as accurate. They can see things that you can’t or won’t—and these studies reveal that whatever you know about yourself that your coworkers don’t is basically irrelevant to your job performance.

Adam Grant writing in the Atlantic

Top performers secret: They chunk it

The idea that skill-which is graceful, fluid, and seemingly effortless--should be created by the nested accumulation of small, discrete circuits seems counterintuitive. But a massive body of scientific research shows that this is precisely the way skills are built--and not just for cognitive pursuits like chess.

Physical acts are also built of chunks. When a gymnast learns a floor routine, he assemblies via a series of chunks, which in turn are made up of other chunks. He’s grouped a series of muscle movements together in exactly the same way you grouped a series of letters together to form a Everest. The fluency happens when the gymnast repeats the movements often enough that he knows how to process those chunks as one big chunk, the same way that you process the above sentence.

From below, top performers look incomprehensibly superior, and see if they’ve leaped in a single bound across a huge chasm. They aren't nearly as different from ordinary performers  as they seem. What separates these two levels is not innate superpower but a slowly accrued act  of construction and organization: the building of a scaffolding, bolt by bolt  and circuit by circuit.

Daniel Coyle, The Talent Code