Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Do you think you are rational? Are you sure that you often make the best decision? Do you feel that your reasoning is superior to that of others? Do you regret some acts and wish you had thought more before committing them? You are, like all human beings, a victim of your cognitive biases.
What is cognitive bias?
Cognition is the mental process of understanding and acquiring knowledge. Cognitive bias is an unconscious cognitive process in human psychology that makes us prone to errors in our reasoning and judgment. It is the gap between rational thinking and our actual way of thinking.
There exists a lot of biases that affect our interaction with the world; we seek pattern in everything even if there is none, we confuse correlation with causality, we hire people who are similar to us, we don’t react the same way to the same information if framed differently, we don’t understand why the opposite side don’t see the ‘truth’, we overestimate our knowledge, etc.
Cognitive biases are an important cause of many catastrophes and tragedies in business, politics, relationships and everyday life. Outsmarting our cognitive biases is key to good decision making and critical thinking.
A New Blog Post Series “Outsmart your Biases”
Outsmart your biases is a forthcoming series of posts that will discuss some of the major cognitive biases, illustrated with examples; the confirmation bias, the availability heuristic, the Dunning-Kruger effect, the planning fallacy, the halo effect and more. In this series, you will find mental tricks and processes that you can use to outsmart these biases and become a better decision-maker. Stay tuned!
Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.
- Title: The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business
- Author: Josh Kaufman
- Publication Date: 2010
- Recommendation Score: 5 / 5
The author, Josh Kaufman, argues that MBA programs are too expensive, with a low return on investment. Especially that the best MBA programs are highly selective, they will pick the candidates who have promising profiles, and who would climb the ladder with or without an MBA. He suggests that business school is unnecessary, and that reading books and gaining real-life experience is a better option.
“The Personal MBA” book as a distilled summary of a huge number of business and personal development books. It gives a boost of knowledge about business, but you need to complete it with further readings and practical experience. As the author puts it: The Personal MBA is a “Do-It-Yourself” approach to business education, but “Do-It-Yourself” does not mean “Do-It-By-Yourself”.
The book comprises both the technical and emotional skills needed for a successful career. The chapters pursue the following outline:
- Value Creation
- Value Delivery
- The Human Mind
- Working With Yourself
- Working With Others
- Understanding Systems
- Analyzing Systems
- Improving Systems
Every human being is unique. Each of us has a unique DNA, a unique experience of life, and a unique outlook to the future. Nonetheless, as a species – Homo sapiens, we all share some traits at different degrees: we tend to over-generalize, we procrastinate, we are curious, etc. Moreover, if we scan the history and the geography of human societies, we notice some patterns in the characters: the leader, the soldier, the scientist, the rebel, the traitor, the altruist, etc. We don’t find it difficult to compare one or more characters of a story to other characters in other stories…
The study of human behavior and personality has gained increased attention in the last two centuries and has evolved from pseudoscience theories (such as phrenology and physiognomy) to an established branch of psychology.
In a previous post “Who Are You, Really? – Brian Little“, the personality is defined as the result of the following determinants: biogenic (inherited genes), sociogenic (culture and values) and idiogenic (individual decisions and will) traits. The OCEAN model for human personalities and behavior was used as a tool to assess the basic personality traits.
Many other models exist in the literature. In this post, the following personality models are presented: MBTI, FIRO-B, SDI, and DISC. These models are widely used today in the corporate world (in hiring and management), and they are part of some management programs. All the models are based on psychological research studies and are formulated as introspective self-report questionnaires that can be found online.
MBTI – Myer Briggs Type Indicator
The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality assessment model that was constructed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. It is based on the conceptual theory proposed by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. The personality traits are grouped into four categories:
- Introversion / Extraversion: What is your source of energy? From inside yourself (I) or from people (E).
- Sensing / INtuition: How do you perceive the world? As facts and details (S) or as possibilities and big picture (N).
- Thinking / Feeling: How do you make decisions? Using analytical thinking (T), or feelings and empathy (F).
- Judging / Perception: How do you organize your life? To-do lists and instructions (J) or flexibility and improvisation (P).
This produces 16 personality types as shown in the figure below. An individual can fall into one type, or between 2 or more types, depending on its score.
Title: Who Are You, Really? The Surprising Puzzle of Personality
- Author: Brian R. Little, PhD
- Publication Date: 2017
- Recommendation Score: 4.5 / 5
Who are you, really? Do you consider yourself an extrovert or an introvert? Are you compassionate or rather detached? What defines your personality traits? Can you change your character?
The book “Who are you, really?” provides insights about the personality traits based on latest psychological studies. The good news is: you are not destined to have a certain character, you can change your personality traits. How? By pursuing your personal projects, you define who you are. In other words, the well-doing can change your character, and has an impact on your well-being. More details below.
Biogenic, Sociogenic and Idiogenic selves
The author argues that everyone has three ‘selves’:
- The biogenic self: your genes define some of the traits of your character. This is the fixed part of your personality.
- The sociogenic self: other traits of your personality are imposed by your social context and the culture you grew in; people who are important to you, your family, friends and colleagues.
- The idiogenic self: what you decide to do, your projects and plans, are the last layer of your character. Studies have shown that what you do can even has an impact on the manifestation of your genes, and, in a sense, influence your genome at least temporally.
Fortunately, your genes and social context are not the only determinants of your personality. Your idiogenic self is your hero.