Food For Thought Friday

💡 What have you learned about yourself that you are committed to improving?

💡 You don’t need permission to choose you and what’s better for your well-being.

💡 Life will give you experiences to help you with your evolution. It knows what you need when you need it, and when you’re prepared to receive it.

💡 Whose speaking on your behalf? How accurate is their version of the things stated?

💡 Those on the sidelines are often more opinionated. Do you want a cheerleader or someone that really “gets” you?

💡 If you expect a lot, give a lot more.

💡 No matter how kind and loving you are, someone will find a reason not to like you. That’s ok. Do you.

💡 “No” is an underused word. Be bold enough to say it and know when to apply it to your life.

💡 Show respect whether earned or not.

💡 Leaning into vulnerability has its rewards.

Pick Your Battles Wisely

Life involves a series of challenges and choices. It only makes sense to choose your battles wisely.

We often dispute insignificant things when there are more important matters that beg for our attention.

No matter how well-meaning you are fighting the battles you think are of paramount importance, sometimes the battle is won when you back up and let situations run their course.

By doing so, you will be far more effective in getting your point across.

Fighting battles for the mere challenge is a waste of time and energy.

If the world came to an end today, would those battles have the same significance?

If the battle is not beneficial, and the stakes are high pending the outcome, avoid the conflict altogether.

Life rarely goes the exact way we may have in mind, and there will always be people who disagree with you or do things differently.

Reevaluate your priorities and understand that there will be battles not worth arguing over, battles you can’t do anything about, and battles that are frankly none of your business.

Decision Making

Decision-making is a critical life skill. Yet, the vast amount of information flowing to us often causes us to take shortcuts in our information processing.

It is human nature to process information in a way that supports our own beliefs. This is not inherently wrong as it helps us think faster and more efficiently. The downside is, we often speak with confidence about things we don’t fully understand.

Let’s explore some of the cognitive biases to be mindful of in our decision-making.

1. Confirmation Bias – Tendency to favor information that reinforces what we believe. You hear from several people that walking is better than jogging. Therefore, you’ll be more inclined to read articles that confirm this statement rather than articles offering a different opinion.

2. Anchoring Bias – Tendency to be overly influenced by the first piece of information obtained, no matter how reliable it is, and using it as a baseline for comparison. While shopping for a vehicle, the salesperson quotes you a price of $50,000. You return the following week and negotiate a purchase price of $40,000. This seems like a great deal considering the original price quoted. However, if $30,000 is the initial quote, $40,000 wouldn’t look like the best price after all.

3. Bandwagon Effect (“groupthink”) – Tendency for people to adopt a behavior or attitude based on what others believe regardless of the underlying evidence. Voting for the most popular candidate in an election because you want to be part of the majority.

4. Halo Effect – Tendency to be influenced by previous judgments of performance and personality. Assuming a good-looking person is also a good person overall.

5. Availability Bias – Tendency of people relying on information that comes to mind quickly and easily. Fear of a shark attack because you hear a lot about it in the news while you’re more likely to succumb to heart disease than being attacked by a shark.

6. Ostrich Effect – Tendency for people to avoid information they perceive as potentially unpleasant. Instead of dealing with a situation, some people prefer to bury their heads in the sand, like ostriches. Avoiding relevant feedback that could help you get a better understanding of a situation.

7. Recency Effect – Tendency to remember the first and last items in a series while finding it challenging to remember the middle. You’re in a meeting, and the speaker is explaining an important concept. This person speaks relatively fast, and you are unable to capture everything shared. As a result, you notice you only took notes of the first few words and last few words.

8. Choice-Supportive Bias – Tendency to remember our choices as better than they were, as we tend to over-focus on the benefits we chose versus the options we did not choose. Attributing more positive features to a favorite brand in favor of brands we have not experienced.

9. Fundamental Attribution Error – Tendency to assume a person’s actions usually reflect who they are as an individual. Assuming the reason a driver cuts us off is that they are selfish or careless when this individual may be dealing with an emergency.

10. Outcome Bias – Tendency to judge the quality of a decision made primarily based on how things turned out rather than analyzing factors that led to the decision. Making all of your decisions this week based on flipping a coin. If most of the outcomes are positive, you may think this is a great way of making decisions.

11. Illusory Correlation Bias – Tendency to inaccurately link an action to an effect. Believing that wearing a specific jersey will give your favored team a higher chance of winning.

12. Dunning Kruger Effect – Tendency to overestimate our competence in a specific area. You commit to learning a new language and learn the basics fast. Yet, you realize more progress is needed to become fluent. On the other hand, your friend studied the same language, learned a few words, and overestimates their ability to speak the language.

Keeping these biases in mind can considerably improve our ability to think critically.

Source: Adapted from ehl.edu / Graphic: Visual Capitalist

Motivation

There is no shortage of motivational messaging.

But, motivation extends beyond temporary stimulation that lasts up until the moment you scroll past a message, stop reading, or someone stops speaking and inspiring.

Motivation comes from a personal belief and desire to accept responsibility for your life and take the necessary action to achieve the things you seek.

Periods of frustration often reflect an urge to succeed in some area of your life.

By understanding what frustrates you, you’ll better understand what fulfills you.

The message behind your frustration is priming you to make a difference in your life by creating new and meaningful value.

That’s embedded motivation.

Reverse Thinking

Having majored in English, I am no stranger to writing long essays (often to my displeasure). A highlight of my writing came from a technique offered by one of my professors. 

When writing, it is not uncommon for our brain to miss details that could take our writing out of context. The advice from my professor was to read my papers backward, sentence by sentence, or paragraph by paragraph. This technique enabled me to identify fragmented thoughts.

In the workplace, we often have to respond to emails. Another form of writing in reverse can improve the way we communicate.

Imagine receiving an email from your leader wanting an update on the status of a project delegated to you. You are highly capable and enthusiastic about completing the assignment but have been overwhelmed with other priorities. Fortunately, you still have time to meet the deadline. 

How do you respond?

Instinctively, we want to explain why we haven’t tackled the task to date to avoid appearing incompetent and may feel inclined to send a message similar to this:

Hello (Leader), sorry for the delay. I’ve had a lot going on and have been feeling a bit overwhelmed. I haven’t had an opportunity to dive into the task because…

We don’t want to give the impression that we are incapable of handling our workload so let’s explore crafting our message in reverse (reversing the roles of the writer (us) with the recipient (our leader).

Adopting the reverse position helps alleviate the emotions dictating our message. 

The first step is to acknowledge the initial message. Let the leader know you cannot reply immediately, helping put the leader at ease by eliminating whether you’ve seen the message or not.

Hello (Leader), thanks for the message. Unable to reply this second but will get back to you as soon as possible.

Next, write the message and save it as a draft.

Let some time pass to allow your emotions to come back into balance. Consider:

  • Am I writing too much?
  • Is the message confusing?
  • Can anything be misinterpreted?
  • Would it be better to communicate in person or by phone?

The goal is to keep the message as brief yet clear as possible.

The final response may look something like this:

Hello (Leader), thanks again for your message yesterday. I have some ideas on how to move forward. I would love to hear your suggestions as well. Please share what you have in mind, and we can discuss the next steps. We can also schedule a call if you like.

Ideally, we may receive a response similar to this:

Sounds good! Here are my suggestions. I look forward to discussing it!

The goal is to get our emotions to work for us versus against us. Writing in reverse helps us examine if we are effectively getting our point across.

Adapted from Inc./Justin Bariso

Food For Thought Friday

💡 Who are you becoming?

💡 Indecision is a decision.

💡 The right time is now. Do it now!

💡 Resist the temptation to make excuses.

💡 Sometimes it’s ok to say nothing.

💡 The truth is often uncomfortable.

💡 Ask for advice versus an opinion. One creates a partnership, the other produces a critic.

💡 Help someone who can’t help you back.

💡 Overthinking is a problem. Failure to think is doom. Exercise balance.

💡 Remember, active minds have constraints.

Limiting Beliefs

What is the danger of limiting beliefs? We sell ourselves short without trying.

Let’s look at some limiting beliefs.

“I don’t have a good memory.”

Saying we don’t have a good memory is a convenient excuse to forget. The solution is finding an optimal way to store information in our brains.

“There is too much information out there.”

Many people spend a significant amount of time reading commentary on a position they hold – never realizing how much they are missing.

Others realize that reading everything is unsustainable and tend to overvalue information they’ve spent a great amount of time consuming.

Instead of reading everything, identify the key variables that can impact your progress.

“All the good ideas are taken.”

Companies have been starting and competing with different ideas, variations, and strategies for centuries.

“We need to move first.”

The answer is not as black and white as this statement. The iPhone wasn’t first, it was better. We have to break each situation down into its component parts and see what’s possible.

“I can’t do that; it’s never been done before.”

Think Elon Musk. A better bet is to look at what could be and plan for that.

Our thinking improves when we stop making assumptions and subscribing to limiting beliefs.

Adapted: FS Brain Food No. 396 | Photo: Tony Robbins

Because I Said So

Following someone else’s ideology is mentally easier than thinking for ourself.

Who remembers hearing as a child “Because I said so?”

As adults, it turns into “Because that’s how it works. “

We hear this often enough, we stop asking questions.

Or, if we reject dogma, we are often viewed as a problem.

First-principles reasoning (breaking down complicated problems and generating original solutions) cuts through dogma and helps us see the world as it is and what is possible.

One way to establish first principles is through Socratic Questioning. This disciplined questioning process helps establish truths, reveal underlying assumptions, and separate knowledge from ignorance. Here’s how:

1. Clarify Your Thinking – Why do I think this?

2. Challenge Assumptions – How do I know this is true?

3. Find Evidence – What are the sources?

4. Consider Alternative Perspectives – What might others think?

5. Consequences and Implications – What if I am wrong?

6. Question the Original Question – What conclusions can I draw from the reasoning process?

If we never learn to take something apart, test the assumptions, and reconstruct it, we end up trapped in the way things have always been done.

Adapted: FS Brain Food No. 396 | Photo: Control Life for Success

Self-Beliefs

The most significant judgment you make each day starts with looking in the mirror.

Its reflection does not lie, and breaking the mirror does not change who you are.

We spend countless hours maintaining our outward appearance when we should be doing more to develop our inner character.

We all have a mental picture of who we think we are.

Naturally, there is a part of us that would like to believe we are smarter, more attractive, giving, and morally better than those around us, but these self-beliefs can often expose us to weaknesses in other areas.

When we become confused about our self-identity, we open the door for problems to enter.

Until we understand who we are, we will not comprehend where we belong.

We also become stagnant in our growth when surrounding ourselves with people that confirm what we believe to be our self-identity.

Stepping outside of our comfort zone helps shatter the assumptions we have made of ourselves and reveal areas of improvement.

Isn’t it time we shed the labels of who we think we should be and gain a clear sense of who we are?

Incompetence

Where does incompetence stem from in the workplace?

🔻 Nonexistent or ineffective training

🔻 Having the wrong people on the team

🔻 No accountability

🔻 Failure to provide constructive feedback

Poor leadership undermines organizational performance.

With so much at stake in today’s business climate, we cannot ignore the importance of leadership development.

Food For Thought Friday

💡 You have to get over living in the temporary shelter of your own mind.

💡 When your heart is in a safe place, you can live anywhere.

💡 The deeper you dig, the more real it gets.

💡 Trust is one thing that changes everything.

💡 If you don’t know, just say you don’t know.

💡 Growth escapes those stuck in doing things the same old way.

💡 What happens to you and through you, outshines what happens to you.

💡 Miracles are “crazy” to those without inner vision.

💡 Substance is the key to life.

💡 Be thankful for your triggers. They reveal areas where you are not free.

Be Present

How often do you think about the mistakes you have made, past relationships that failed, losses you have endured, or someone that agitates your soul?

How many times have you tuned out your loved ones, colleagues, and others?

We are often so distracted by the past and worrisome about the future that we miss opportunities.

Opportunities to strengthen relationships, learn more, make better decisions, and become more effective.

It makes sense why we fall into this trap, but it is counterproductive and affects those around you.

Learn from the past, but do not live there.

Plan for the future, but do not obsess over it.

Every second spent dwelling on the past or obsessing about the future steals from the present moment.

Quality Questioning

Asking the right questions to the wrong people can be a recipe for disaster.

𝐒𝐜𝐞𝐧𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐨 𝟏: If you’re considering introducing a new product or service to the market, you may fare better asking:

◼ People who have gone through a similar experience.

◼ Your ideal customers.

◼ People who can offer unbiased feedback.

Friends and family mean well, but they may not have the expertise to provide the answers you need.

𝐒𝐜𝐞𝐧𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐨 𝟐: Asking someone a question doesn’t mean you’re going to get the answer you want to hear. This typically happens when you:

◼ Ask the wrong questions – even when they’re the right people.

◼ Fail to take advice previously given.

◼ Ask questions packed with too much information to comprehend.

When it comes to getting answers, who you ask, and the quality of your questions matters.

Word Remix

How do our words help us connect with others?

What we say and how we say it can influence how we are received and elicit powerful reactions.

While an extensive vocabulary is helpful, our communication with others should be simple, clear, and understandable.

Take into consideration that there are five generations in the workplace, team members who may speak other languages, and varying education levels.

To master the language of leadership and human connection, we must be able to adapt our communication style when necessary.

The words we use at work, in conversation, or feedback is paramount.

Which would you prefer?

▶ What went wrong? [or] What worked?

▶ Why did you do that? [or] Help me understand your decision.

▶ Yes, but. [or] Yes, and.

▶ That will not work. [or] Let’s discuss if we can make that option work.

▶ I should have. [or] Next time.

▶ Do you understand? [or] Are we on the same page?

Effective communication is a critical component of our effectiveness as leaders.

The words we choose can either empower or tear down, inspire or paralyze, connect or disengage.

Generalizations

My daughter and I recently had a conversation about her plans after graduating from high school.

She referred to the Class of 2022 being the last graduating class of its kind.

Naturally, I wanted to know what this meant.

She described the freshmen and sophomores in her school as being a “different breed” and gave examples of their lack of maturity.

I found this to be quite amusing in consideration of my parenting struggles.

We’ve been working towards limiting the use of generalizations and words such as:

😬 Everyone

😬 Always

😬 Never

It is not uncommon to encounter similar generalizations made in the workplace.

Imagine someone from your team stating that “everyone is upset with the recent change.”

👉 What is the risk of making hasty decisions with insufficient information?

The best approach is to ask questions such as:

❍ Who is everyone?

❍ How many people does that include?

❍ Why did they choose you as a messenger?

❍ What is the reason they are upset?

Exercising caution before respeonding can be the difference between success or failure in your communication.

Gathering more information will also help you discover the best course of action.

👉 What are some of your experiences with generalizations?