I Don’t Know

I Don’t Know

Is “I don’t know” the most sensible answer to all the big questions? We’re still dealing with the fallout from Covid-19. Will there be a vaccine? How long will it take? How effective will it be? The scientists working on it are doing their best – but no-one can give definitive answers. And if Covid-19 ‘goes away’, how long before the next pandemic? What about Brexit? Climate change? I don’t know. These are all really big, scary questions, and the only thing they have in common is the uncertainty that surrounds them. It’s easy to get stuck in that uncertainty, in waiting for ‘the new normal’. But as Seth Godin […]

We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

On 19 April 1995, McArthur Wheeler robbed two banks in Pittsburgh. Knowing that lemon juice can be used as a simple invisible ink, he smeared his face with it before the robberies, believing the juice would make his features invisible to the security cameras … This ‘illusion of competence’ is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias that describes the difficulty we all have in assessing our own abilities. Psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger explain that poor performers tend to over-estimate their own ability, while experts tend to over-estimate the ability of others. It’s important to understand that in most cases, the Dunning-Kruger effect happens as a result […]

When to Quit

When to Quit

The old saying that ‘winners never quit and quitters never win’ is overly simplistic. Winners ‘quit’ all the time – the key is knowing when to keep going, and when to move on. The balance we are looking for is between stubbornness and patience: is this a bad idea that isn’t going to work, or a good idea that we haven’t made work yet? Why DON’T We Quit? Sometimes we are so committed to one path, we can’t [or don’t want to] see any alternatives. This is often due to ‘sunk costs’ – the more resources we have invested [time, money, energy], the harder it is to quit. We need […]

Make Better Decisions

Make Better Decisions

Like almost everything else, decision making is a skill that we can improve with practice. The biggest problem is that with hindsight, we tend to judge our decisions by the outcome rather than the process we used [if there even was one!]. The first stage is to look at where we might be going wrong. In their book ‘Decisive’, Chip and Dan Heath find four common ‘villains’ in our decision making process – and offer solutions to each: VILLAINSOLUTIONNARROW FRAMINGWe haven’t fully understood the problemWIDEN YOUR OPTIONSExpand your understanding and choicesCONFIRMATION BIASSeeking information that confirms existing beliefsTEST YOUR ASSUMPTIONSFind people who disagree with the suggested solution(s)SHORT-TERM EMOTION“This solution takes away […]

Silence Is Dangerous

Silence Is Dangerous

Studies across the world have repeatedly shown that in around 85% of businesses, people are aware that there are problems but are afraid to raise them. In her book and TED talks, Margaret Heffernan calls this ‘Willful Blindness’ – the point where we have chosen to ignore something because that seems like the easier path. Why don’t we speak up? What is it that we are afraid of? Most often, we are worried about the conflict that will result from pointing out a problem. This is a very human response, and one that we don’t just see in business – we see it in our personal lives too. In order […]

Disappointment v Regret

Disappointment v Regret

What’s the difference between disappointment and regret? And why does it matter? During challenging times for our business, we may find ourselves feeling down about the things that happen – or don’t happen. This is entirely understandable – and it’s important to recognise and acknowledge our emotions, but how we frame things is vitally important. REGRET can be a useful emotion. We feel it when we look back and can see how we might have acted differently. This rumination is an opportunity to improve ourselves by learning from our mistakes. DISAPPOINTMENT is what we feel when we miss out on something for reasons beyond our control. The crucial difference is […]

Questions To Ask In Challenging Times

Questions To Ask In Challenging Times

All businesses face challenges, and when they catch us by surprise, or are especially large, it can be hard to figure out what action to take. When crisis hits, we usually have to be reactive. We adapt to a new situation, perhaps a new world view – potentially even a new normal. Then as the dust settles, we can shift back into being proactive. When that time comes, it can help to ask ourselves three questions: What am I spreading?What do I want to look back on?What am I looking forward to? 1 :: What am I spreading? Almost everything spreads – viruses, great ideas, fake news, cat pictures. Emotions. […]

Saying No Is Generous

Saying No Is Generous

It’s hard to say no to things … Invitations. Opportunities. Cake. Most of us know we should decline more often than we do, so why do we keep saying Yes? Leaving the cake to one side, we say Yes in business for a variety of reasons – we don’t want to let people down, we’re worried about losing a potential customer, or perhaps we could simply do with the income this month. Our intentions are good – we convince ourselves we can deliver what they need, but when we say Yes to something that doesn’t align with our experience and expertise, we end up having the opposite effect. We don’t […]

Planning » Preparation » Progress

Planning » Preparation » Progress

First, you make a plan.Then you prepare to execute.Then you take the action needed to progress. It’s a fairly obvious sequence. Ready … Aim … Fire I’ve done things where I tried to move too fast. Ready … Ai -FIRE! Fire again! FIIIIIRREE! It didn’t end well. I tried to learn from that. Ready … Aim … OK, left a bit – now up a bit … yeah, I think that’s it … Fi – no, wait – I think it’s down a bit … And so on. That didn’t get me very far, either. Ready … Aim … Fire Like so many things, it sounds simple – but simple […]

Effective Optimism

Effective Optimism

Pessimists just aren’t nice to be around. All that doom and gloom drags you down. The attitude of helplessness is draining. On the other hand, excessive optimism can be just as frustrating – particularly when it ignores the fact that there’s work to be done. Where’s the balance? It’s not about thinking everything will work out, but we do need to continually believe in the possibility of finding a solution. What we need is persistent, realistic optimism.