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3 Shortcuts to High-Level Thinking

Understanding the bigger picture

We like to be right. And to protect our desire to be right, we look for evidence that supports our ideas and ignore evidence that contradicts them.

But to construct a holistic view about anything, we have to aim to understand the big picture and be particularly critical of sources that support our beliefs.

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3 Shortcuts to High-Level Thinking

3 Shortcuts to High-Level Thinking

https://medium.com/mind-cafe/3-shortcuts-to-high-level-thinking-7705f6b3e039

medium.com

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Key Ideas

Shortcuts to smarter thinking

With time, our brains develop clever artifices to help solve common problems. These repeated concepts are called heuristics: algorithms, procedures or rules of thumb that simplify decision making.

When we rely on heuristics for making decisions and solving problems, we save mental energy for complex or high-level decisions.

The problem with heuristics

The problem with using this appears we rely too much on using our existing heuristic patterns without modifying them, because that can create a state of mental stagnation.

Mental operations are affected by mistakes such as cognitive biases, if we are not careful.

Understanding the bigger picture

We like to be right. And to protect our desire to be right, we look for evidence that supports our ideas and ignore evidence that contradicts them.

But to construct a holistic view about anything, we have to aim to understand the big picture and be particularly critical of sources that support our beliefs.

Comfortable with feeling uncomfortable

In the long-term, comfort is bad for your brain.

Seeking new experiences, learning new skills, and opening the door to new ideas inspire us and educate us in a way that improves mental clarity.

Michael Merzenich

Michael Merzenich

“It’s the willingness to leave the comfort zone that is the key to keeping the brain new.”

Cultivate your curiosity

Curiosity is the force that activates and sustains lifelong learning.

A naturally curious mind takes interest in a wide range of subjects to find connections to help solve everyday problems better.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Simple rules

They are shortcut strategies that save time and effort by focusing our attention and simplifying the way we process information. The rules aren’t universal- they’re tailored to the particular si...

Boundary rules for better decisions

They guide the choice of what to do (and not do) without requiring a lot of time, analysis, or information. 

They work well for categorical choices, like a judge’s yes-or-no decision on a defendant’s bail, and decisions requiring many potential opportunities to be screened quickly. 

These rules also come in handy when time, convenience, and cost matter.

Prioritizing rules for better decisions

They rank options to help decide which of multiple paths to pursue.

They are especially powerful when applied to bottleneck activities - pinch-points in companies, where the number of opportunities swamps available resources, and prioritizing rules can ensure that these resources are deployed where they can have the greatest impact.

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Every Decision In Life Becomes a Trade-Off
Every Decision In Life Becomes a Trade-Off

... and boils down to what we give up to attain something. Our mindsets are inclined towards pleasure and resistive towards pain. We normally like to think in terms of gai...

Good and Bad Decisions

Decisions are a cost-benefit analysis of risking something small for the opportunity to gain something big.

  • Good decisions can be: Exercising, meditating for 10 minutes daily, finding the courage and striking up a conversation with someone, applying for jobs that you may or may not get.
  • Bad decisions can be: lying or pretending to someone, driving unsafely, sending angry text messages, or staying up late drinking before an important meeting or exam in the morning.
Trade-offs and Life Values

Trade-offs are not something as simple as flipping a coin. Our values guide us towards what we want in life, and it is not the same for all. Example: Buying a house has a trade-off of mortgage for the next ten or more years. This is subjective and depends on what we value in life.

Indecisive people suffer because they don’t know their inner values and what they care about.

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Work on the right decision

The way you frame your decision at the outset can make all the difference. 

State your decision problems carefully, acknowledge their complexity and avoid unwarranted assumptions ...

Specify your objectives

A decision is a means to an endAsk yourself what you most want to accomplish and which of your interests, values, concerns, fears, and aspirations are most relevant to achieving your goal.

Decisions with multiple objectives cannot be resolved by focusing on any one objective.

Create imaginative alternatives

Your decision can be no better than your best alternative.

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Noise

Organizational noise comes in endless streams of information and communication. At the individual level, there is internal noise, which manifests from our biases, fears, and competing priorities...

Fear

Fear of failure, fear of making the wrong decision, and fear of our own inadequacy all affect the actions we take and quality of the decisions we make.

If you frequently question your ability to make sound decisions seek out a coach or mentor who can help you boost your confidence.

Attention

Multitasking slows us down as the brain is optimized to focus on one task at a time. Spreading our attention across multiple tasks becomes draining and leaves little energy for those tasks that matter most.

Pay attention to what you're doing. Turn off any distractions that may take your mind elsewhere.

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Decision-making errors

Most decision-making errors boil down to:

  • logical fallacies (over-generalizations, comparing apples and oranges, circular thinking)
  • limiting beliefs (underes...
Confirmation Bias

If you already have an opinion about something before you've even tried to figure it out, chances are you'll over-value information that confirms that opinion.

Think about what kinds of information you would expect to find to support alternative outcomes.

Attribution Bias

The “fundamental attribution error,” is when we excuse our own mistakes but blame other people for theirs.

Give other people the chance to explain themselves before judging their behavior.

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The Art of Decision-making:
  1. Get 1% smarter every day;
  2. Focus on things that don’t change or change very slowly over t...
Decision-making cascades 

... through everything you do. That's the power of compounding. If you get 1% better at understanding how the world works, how human behavior works, how economic systems function, and understanding your own brain — that 1% improvement impacts everything you do. 

Study things that never change

The best kind of knowledge is not ephemeral junk , that will be useless in a few years, but the core pillars of human knowledge and the major academic disciplines. That knowledge changes very slowly over time  and it’s a core foundation that you can build upon and grow from. 

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The ABCDs of categorizing decisions
The ABCDs of categorizing decisions
  • Big-bet decisions: infrequent and high-risk - from major acquisitions to game-changing capital investments;
  • Cross-cutting decisions: frequent and high-risk - think pricin...
Approaching big bet decisions
  • Appoint an executive sponsor to work with a project lead to frame important decisions for senior leaders to weigh in on;
  • Break things down (with decision meetings at each stage), and connect them up.
  • Focuses on debating the solution (instead of endlessly elaborating the problem) and gather the right people.
  • Move faster without losing commitment: get comfortable living with imperfect data and being clear about what “good enough” looks like.
Approaching cross-cutting decisions
  • Identify decisions that involve a cross-cutting group of leaders, and work with the stakeholders of each to agree on what the main steps in the process entail.
  • Work through a set of real-life scenarios to pressure-test the system in collaboration with the people who will be running the process.
  • Limit the number of decision-making bodies, and clarify for each its mandate, standing membership, roles etc.
  • Create shared objectives, metrics, and collaboration targets.

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Self-distancing

The act of increasing the psychological distance from your own subjective perspective when assessing events that you experience.

Is an external perspective that you can use when th...

Benefits of self-distancing
  • It can help people cope with difficult events from their past.
  • It can  help people deal with socially distressful situations.
  • Useful because of our tendency to display high levels of wise reasoning when we give advice to others, but not when we decide how to act for ourselves.
  • It reduces decisional biases and improves decision-making during times of information overload.
How to create self-distance
  • Use self-distancing language:  refer to yourself in the second or third-person.
  • Try to view the situation from an alternative viewpoint, that is different from your own.
  • Try to visualize the perspective of  someone you admire, and then ask yourself what would they do in that situation.
  • Try expressive writing: write about your thoughts and feelings when you’re trying to analyze an event that you’ve experienced.
Phishing

It is a scam by which an internet user is deceived into revealing personal or confidential information which can be used illicitly.

At least 3.4 billion phishing emails are sent out wo...

Losing everything with a click

When it comes to phishing emails, you can lose everything with just a click.

You can give away your most important personal or financial information, download a destructive virus or install malware on your computer that compromises your files.

Using emotional tactics

Phishing emails are designed to bypass logic and manipulate our emotions.

Phishing is effective because it appeals to our biases and emotions. It tries to get us to make a decision quickly without considering possible biases. This leaves us open to unwise decisions.

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The feeling of free will

The feeling of free will may be an illusion. 

Our brain can subconsciously predict an outcome of a decision before we are aware we are making one. Yet, we often believe that we conscious...

Unconscious decisions
One study revealed that two parts of the brain – the frontopolar cortex and the precuneus - showed activity that predicted the choices of volunteers 7 seconds before the subjects were consciously aware of their decisions. 

It suggests that our choices have already been influenced before we become aware of the decision.