1. Choosing not to think. Have you ever noticed that there are boundaries to what we choose to think about? Religion is certainly one area where we may choose not to apply the usual rigours of thought. Math is another one; childhood school fears are likely the main block. Relationships, too, might not be tested for fear of failure. If you ever find yourself choosing not to think about something, take a step back and ask yourself why.
2. Seeking only evidence that makes you feel good or supports your point of view. Horoscopes, astrologists, and psychics play on this well-known human weakness. We only notice those things that confirm what we want and ignore those things that don’t. I find I have to pay attention when I’m advocating for or defending a position. Am I being reasonable and fair? Am I seeking disconfirming evidence? How are you at searching for contradictions?
3. Being unthinkingly loyal to your friends, your family, your organization, or any of your “in” group. I grew up with this notion that blood is thicker than water. Mafias are loyal to their “family”, but it doesn’t make their actions right. There is, of course, some truth in the saying. I know and trust my family and friends because of my shared experiences with them, but this doesn’t mean that I should excuse anything they say or do. If anything, it is my responsibility to be loyal to their best selves. Do you find yourself unthinkingly supporting your friends or family?
4. Dismissing ideas or people because of their form not their content. If it looks good, it must be good right? Advertisers would want us to believe that of course, but any astute shopper who has been disappointed by a product knows that looks and quality don’t always go hand-in-hand. The corollary then would be that if it looks bad, it isn’t always bad. A documentary film may not have great special effects or the prettiest actors or the right flow… but the truths it speaks may be more fruitful than any Hollywood film. When do you dismiss something, is it because it doesn’t look good?
5. Quitting before you’ve begun. What if you wanted to lead a healthy lifestyle and quit going to the gym after a month? What if you wanted to market your business and quit networking after a month? You’ve stopped before you’ve even begun. Most of the time it’s not for lack of the right direction or technique or skills. It’s a lack of persisting long enough to see the results. Have you quit before you’ve begun?
Chris Hsiung BSc. CPCC
Chris Hsiung is the president of U Venture, a consulting practice that helps entrepreneurs and professionals develop their adaptive learning capacities to navigate uncertain times and build meaningful life ventures. He graduated with distinction from the University of Calgary in Electrical Engineering and is an internationally certified coach through the Coaches Training Institute (CTI). He is also a student and teacher of curriculum at Leadership Calgary and at Momentum.