The Cold Machine Part II

The resistance to opinion change also applies to our opinions about our selves.  Do you fully acknowledge your accomplishments and contributions to your family, friends, and colleagues?  What negative opinions do you have of yourself? Is there a voice in your head holding you back? I recently learned a 6-step method of opinion change, that we could apply to our misconceptions of the world around us, as well as the world inside of us. Each step is in the form of a question. They are based on the scientific method of inquiry.


1-What do you really believe anyway?


2-How well based is the opinion that you already hold (data vs. personal experience)?


3-How good is the evidence?


4-Does the current evidence really contradict what you already believe?


5-If the current evidence is not enough to change your mind, what would be enough to change your mind?


6-Is it worth finding out about or is it just a case of why not? (If you believe that drinking a class of water before you take an exam helps you do better, why not just continue to do it? No harm done.)


I am happy to be able to share this with you, and hope that you will give it a try. Evidence is not enough to change opinion, you need to create a story that goes with it, and these questions are a useful guide to doing just that.  As for me, I no longer care about which side of the penny is showing and enjoy a good pear. For those who play the slots, here is something you can believe:


Two friends, Smith and Jones, went together to play the slot machines at the casino. Each agreed that when his allotted money was gone, he would go to the front of the casino and sit on the bench to wait for his friend. Jones quickly lost all of his money and went to sit on the bench. He waited and waited and waited and waited. After what seemed an eternity, he saw Smith coming toward him carrying a huge sack of coins. “Hey, Jones,” said Smith, “how’d you do?” “Well, Smith”, said Jones, “you see me here on this bench- what do you think? It looks like you hit it big, though.” “Oh yeah,” said Smith, “did I find a good machine! It’s way in the back. I’ll show it to you-you can’t lose! Every time you put in a dollar four quarters come out!!!”

The Cold Machine Part I

There are so many experiments that prove that you have no clue as to what motivates you. Take the sock experiment. Four pairs of socks are laid out on a table and passers by are asked to pick the pair they like the best. They are labeled 1-4, with 1 being on the left side. Invariably, a majority picks the fourth pair, the one to the extreme right. 12% pick #1, 17% pick #2, 31% pick #3, and 40% pick #4. The socks are all exactly the same, but people have a natural bias to things that are on the right. Then the experiment is repeated, and this time after the person picks the pair they think are the best they are told that they are all the same, and they are surprised and skeptical. They are also told of the right side bias. Nobody believes it!

We all underestimate how much our beliefs and theories contribute to our observations and opinions, and are not all that open to how many other ways what we see could have been interpreted.

There is a ton of evidence that it is hard for us to reconcile our previous beliefs with new data that prove we are wrong. We have all experienced this. When I was a teenager I came down with an awful flu, I ran a fever that spiked up to 105 degrees. The last thing I ate before I got sick was a pear. For years I thought the pear had something to do with why I became so ill and couldn’t eat one. I also used to be a firm believer in not picking up heads down pennies to avoid bad luck. Do you believe the gambler’s fallacy? If you flip a coin and it comes up heads six times in a row, is a tail more likely on the seventh flip? No it is not, but try convincing the person that is hanging on at that losing slot machine because it has got to produce a win after so many loses. The hard cold data shows that each coin flip and each pull of the lever is an act not related to the one before.

Why Are There Lousy Bosses?

Seth Godin says that if you treat your employees like “mushrooms” keep them in the dark and through crap on them, you will get the kind of work you deserve in return. It is widely documented that the way you treat your employees is they way they treat your clients, how productive they are, and ultimately the bottom line.  It got me thinking,  since this is well known, why do some leaders take the mushroom approach?

You might think it is ignorance, however, this is not likely, since it is so easy to find and learn best practices for managing staff. I coach and train managers on this, and start by saying it is not rocket science. If you are willing, you can gain the skills to be a great manager. I have also come up against managers who refuse to engage in the discovery and learning process.

I find that there are generally two reasons for this refusal, which is the proverbial putting your head in the sand. The first is that they boss has personality traits that keep her or him stuck in this counter-productive style. It could be an extreme lack of trust, low self-confidence, a high need for control,  or any combination of these traits. If you add resistance to personal awareness, you have a boss stuck in a destructive pattern. The second reason is putting the mission in second or third place. A leader at any level makes the best decisions when they are guided first by the mission, whether it is to serve customers or make the best quality widgets. If personal needs, dictated by personality, guide decisions and behavior, mission takes a back seat and best practice goes out the window.




The 24 Personality Traits/Self-Control Traits/Self-Confidence

#19 Self-Confidence is the degree to which you believe that you will be successful in whatever you attempt.

If you are above average you have a strong belief in your own ability and knowledge. You may also over-promise and not know your own limitations.

If you are below average you do not belief that you have the skills, knowledge or experience to succeed. You may also become paralyzed by insecurity.

For this personality trait, behavior at either end of the continuum is an expression of low self-esteem that causes you to have an unrealistic picture of your abilities. You need to take action to build your self-esteem.


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