If you’re not careful, the 25 cognitive biases of your brain will destroy your life.
As Friedrich Nietzsche says in today’s Book-Of-The-Day “Man Alone With Himself” “Many people are obstinate about the path once it’s taken, few people about the destination.”
He means we are stubborn about the wrong thing.
Earlier today on my new TV show [Every day at 11:30am PST on TaiLopez.com] I talked about how stubbornness can be a powerful tool. But the devil’s in the details.
It depends on how you define stubbornness. If you are stubborn about the methods you’re using you will usually lose your way – it will be fatal.
You should only be stubborn about one thing: Getting the end goal you wanted. Everything else should be flexible – up for discussion.
I had someone in my family decide he was going to become a Fruitarian. He ate bananas all day. But he didn’t set it up as an experiment.
The Fruitarian diet experiment became his god. He became the servant of his brain and the cognitive biases called “commitment consistency & mis-weighting bias” that many great scientists and psychologists like Cialdini have written on.
He shouldn’t have cared about which diet plan he adopted – only about which diet plan worked. If you read the book “Diet Cults” you will see how millions of people blindly follow their diet cult: Vegan, Paleo, Macrobiotic, Atkins, Vegetarian, etc. But who cares about the diet?? You should only care about looking in the mirror and being lean and healthy.
That’s all the matters. If eating cardboard accomplished that, then eat cardboard. People love to elevate the experiment into the goal. The experiment is never the goal. My Fruitarian relative forgot to look in the mirror to see his muscle mass and health deteriorating before his eyes.
He forgot to listen to the doctor that said that every Fruitarian he had ever met and treated in his clinic had always had serious health problems. You should never love the path. Love the results.
You see this bias in business too. You see business owners with a goal to make net profit. But they try to use their intuition and immediately decide upon the product and strategy to get them the net profit.
They guess. And stick to their first guess – even when it’s losing money. Brandon Routh, who played Superman in the big Warner Brothers movie, was at my house yesterday. He told me about a friend who moved to Hollywood to get in the entertainment business.
He had no acting potential. But he wanted to act. He was stubborn about his imaginary acting skills. He could have been a great writer or producer. But he was so intent on the one path/experiment of acting that he ended up with nothing. Just a nasty Pareto inefficiency.
A lose-lose situation. No acting. And no writing or producing. That’s most people’s life. One nothing after another. You might have noticed this tendency in your love life. You dated someone with the goal of living happily ever after – finding your soul mate. But then you realized, “Hey, this person I’m dating, I don’t think there is anything long term here.” But you stay committed to the relationship anyway (and kick yourself for it later).
Don’t be that person. The one trapped in the cycle. Life’s too short for deadly mistakes.
The simplest way to overcome the biases is to always ask yourself 2 questions:
1. “What’s my end goal?”
2. “Is this current experiment getting me efficiently towards that end goal?” If the answer is “No”, ditch the experiment (NOT the goal). Just iterate and modify the experiment slightly. At first this will seem like it’s too slow of a strategy.
It’s not. Like Munger says: “Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Discharge your duties faithfully and well.
Step by step you get ahead, but not necessarily in fast spurts. But you build discipline by preparing for fast spurts. Slug it out one inch at a time, day by day. At the end of the day – if you live long enough – most people get what they deserve.” Stay Strong Tai