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3 Mistakes to Avoid as a Leader

Carolina Baker - October 18th, 2013










Recently, Fast Company republished an article on 8 Subconscious Mistakes Our Brains Make Every Day, and how you can work to avoid them – if you want to.

You surround yourself with information that matches your beliefs

If you agree with someone’s beliefs, you’re more likely to be friends with them or hire them. But, this means that your brain ignores whatever intimidates your views because you’re surrounded by people and information that confirm what you already think.

To counteract this, challenge what you think is correct on a regular basis.

Some fun ways to do this:

  • Instead of relying on your go-to employee, reach out to the one that always makes you consider a different perspective
  • Get a new mentor from a different industry
  • If you want innovation, hire someone different

You are wired to feel loss more strongly than gain

Sunk Costs refers to any cost (time, effort, money) that can’t be recovered. It’s time or money that’s gone forever.

The reason you often can’t ignore sunk costs is because you are wired to feel loss more strongly than gain.

Your ancestors probably placed more importance on avoiding threats (tigers) than on maximizing gains (tiger meat), and they passed on their genes to you. As a result, losing is a much more powerful motivator than the promise of gains.

But, this behavior prevents you from realizing that the best choice is to do what promises the better experience in the future, and not what appears to alleviate the loss of your past.

Dyson is currently the best-selling vacuum cleaner by revenue in the United States and it took James Dyson 5,126 prototypes to get it right. Most people would have given up after attempt 100 (or 15). But because Dyson stuck it out until prototype 5,127 (and used nearly his entire savings), he’s one of the richest men in Britain. Clearly, he didn’t let the feeling of loss (money and time) stop him from his eventual gains.

Our best advice is to remember that you can’t get that investment back. So, let it remain in the past.

You incorrectly predict odds

Say you’re playing Heads or Tails with a friend. You have a 50-50 chance of being right. And you’ve flipped the coin seven times already and it’s turned up heads every time…

The next one will be tails, right? It has to be…

Wrong. The chances of tails turning up are still 50-50. Every time. Even if you turned up heads the last 25 times. Odds don’t change.

This is the gambler’s fallacy, and it shows that you place too much weight on past events and forget about how reality actually works.

Your past doesn’t change the odds of your present. If your dream product hasn’t taken off after 3 years of grueling work, and you’re not making tweaks to it (like James Dyson did), maybe it’s time to let it go. Start anew each day, leaving what happened before, where it belongs.

Do you recognize any of these mistakes?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

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