What happens when we see only the differences

When we focus on the differences, we lose touch with the evidence that the similarities point out. The history of a matter provides context.

  • Consider investors and the dotcom bubble. People saw it as unique. We reasoned that everything would change, and everyone who owned internet companies would prosper. Suddenly profits didn't matter, nor revenue. We thought it would come in time. Market share mattered regardless of the cost to acquire it.
  • We got caught up in the differences and forgot to look at what was the same. Had we looked at the massively transformational industries, such as automobiles, we would've seen that of all the 70 different auto manufacturing operations in the United States, only 3 survived.
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The importance of focusing on the similarities

When we look at situations, we prefer to look for what is distinct. Instead, we should pay attention to the similarities.

The four words "this time is different" makes us incorrectly think that differences are more valuable than similarities. When your reasoning and plans are based on the differences, you are probably speculating.

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Our various cognitive biases make us behave irrationally, even though we believe we are acting logically. If we are tired, in a rush, or are distracted we tend to rush towards a bad decision. Other factors include working with an authority figure or in a group.

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The best-case scenario

The best-case scenario is seldom the one that happens. It is okay to hope for the best. Some degree of optimism is necessary for trying anything new. Without it, we would not start a business or enter a new relationship.

Even when the best-case scenario comes to pass, it rarely unfolds according to plan. Unforeseen problems may appear due to lack of information. Or our ideas may take much longer to implement.

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