97 STASHED IDEAS
Rember that reality is often not polarized at all. To control the gap instinct, look for the majority.
The negativity instinct describes our tendency to notice the bad more than the good.
So when you hear about something terrible, calm yourself by asking, If there had been an equally large positive improvement, would I have heard about that?
Remember that information about bad events is much more likely to reach us. Expect bad news.
This instinct describes our tendency to assume that a line will just continue straight and ignoring that such lines are rare in reality.
But don’t assume straight lines. Many trends do not follow straight lines but are S-bends, slides, humps, or double lines. No child ever kept up the rate of growth it achieved in its first six months, and no parents would expect it to.
It's true that the world population is increasing. Very fast. But it’s not just increasing.
The “just” implies that, if nothing is done, the population will just keep on growing. It implies that some drastic action is needed in order to stop the growth. That is the misconception based on our instinct to assume that lines are straight.
The fear instinct describes our tendency to pay more attention to frightening things.
These fears are hardwired deep in our brains for obvious evolutionary reasons. Fears of physical harm, captivity, and poison once helped our ancestors survive. In modern times, perceptions of these dangers still trigger our fear instinct.
Recognize when frightening things get your attention, and remember that these are not necessarily the riskiest. Calculate the risks.
The size instinct describes our tendency to get things out of proportion, or misjudge the size of things.
To avoid getting things out of proportion you need only these tools: comparing and dividing:
Remember that categories are misleading. So question your categories.
This is the idea that innate characteristics determine the destinies of people, countries, religions, or cultures. It’s the idea that things are as they are for ineluctable, inescapable reasons: they have always been this way and will never change.
Remember that many things (people, countries, religions, and cultures) appear to be constant just because the change is happening slowly, and remember that even small, slow changes gradually add up to big changes.
A single perspective can limit your imagination; look at problems from many angles to get a more accurate understanding and find practical solutions.
The blame instinct describes our tendency to find a clear, simple reason for why something bad has happened.
The urgency instinct describes our tendency to take immediate action in the face of perceived imminent danger, and in doing so, amplifying our other instincts.
To control the urgency instinct, take small steps.
Most of the people we encounter refuse to change their minds during a discussion or debate, even when provided with hard facts that contradict their stand. As most of us have learnt the hard way in the last few years, it is extremely difficult to persuade anyone with strong beliefs or ideologies.
It is human nature due to ‘motivated reasoning’, which leads to many kinds of biases, as the reasoning process of our mind is akin to a lawyer defending a client.
As most of us have preexisting mental models, it is hard to change one’s mind and completely eliminate the various cognitive biases.
Many of us are practising all-or-nothing thinking, believing that the world is in absolute terms, and assuming that something that is not completely black or white has negative connotations or is murky and confusing.
The often-resisted gray areas, where the answers are not certain, quick or clear, are paradoxically the very places that one can start to experience peace and contentment, and minimize anxiety.
Thinking in absolute terms is preferred as it appears certain, simple and less taxing on the brain. There is a certain cockiness in thinking in binary terms, as it gives us an illusion that we have everything figured out, and provides us with a false sense of confidence.
Simplicity and insight comes with the understanding that reality is never black or white, but is some shade of gray.
Understanding and embracing the gray area has many benefits:
A Polymath is defined as one who is specialized in at least two unrelated fields or domains while having a passive interest in other domains too. They are individualists that hold a holistic view of the world.
Polymaths have an interest in many different phenomena and are curious and adventurous by nature, looking to experience and uncover new facts.
When polymaths become interested in something, they don't care which domain or sphere it leads them. Some qualities of a Polymath person:
Genetic and environmental factors, along with curiosity and self-awareness, make polymaths complex personalities.
They have historically been rebels, as society has always encouraged individuals to specialize in a particular field.
The idea of "A jack of all trades, master of none" falls flat when we study the polymath.
Pursuing multiple interests can fuel creativity and productivity, creating connections between domains, leading to cross-pollination.
Polymathy leads to creativity, as one domain can inspire something new in a different domain.
For example: Having knowledge of geometry can help in painting, or knowing to play the piano, one can apply more creativity in a domain like mechanical engineering, by forming connections.
What we can learn from polymaths: we can be better and more productive at our jobs if we keep switching between different skills or subjects, changing our environment, the company we keep and our interests. This is also an excellent tool to solve problems.
In the early 20th century, original work entered the world of commerce. Chemical, pharmaceutical and electrical companies hired large numbers of academically trained scientists, believing that innovation was vital to commercial success and that science belonged in commercial organisations.
Companies such as General Electric and Eastman Kodak didn't think creative and productive work had anything to do with hiring awkward geniuses but with finding the organisational forms that allowed ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things.
The military was a key factor in creativity's Cold War history, particularly American history.
A psychologist wrote: 'In the presence of threat, creativity could no longer be left to the chance occurrence of genius; neither could it be left in the realm of the wholly mysterious and the untouchable. Men had to be able to do something about it; creativity had to be a property in many men; it had to be something identifiable; it had to be subject to efforts to gain more of it.'
In 1950, a leading psychologist lamented that only a small proportion of professional literature was concerned with creativity.
Within a decade, a 'creativity movement' developed. Seminars on 'creative engineering' were held, asking what creativity is, why it's important, what factors influence it, how it should be developed. There was never a consensus about whether particular definitions were right, but sentiment settled around a substantive link between creativity and the idea of divergent thinking. People were thought to be creative if they could branch out and imagine a range of possible solutions.
By its nature, creativity is individual, eccentric, and antagonistic to attempts to plan to organise it. An effort to manage creative people might result in only getting the appearance of creativity.
The categories of being creative, or a creative person, transitioned over time from the sacred power to a secular ability. From the 1950s onward, creativity has been established as something desirable and essential, a value that was the source of many other values.
Marketing expert Theodore Levitt published an essay in 1963, 'Creativity is not enough.' Levitt stated that creativity might be a source of new ideas, but it is not ideal for good business outcomes. There is no short supply of new ideas.
Creativity is having a new idea, while innovation is the realisation of an idea in a specific outcome. It is innovation that really matters. Creative people tend to be irresponsible and detached from the processes of achieving results.
The rise of creativity has continued since the Cold War. Many expert practices have been incorporated into the everyday life of organisations committed to producing useful novelty.
The specific language of creativity has become normalized just as new and useful making has become normalized. Producing new and useful things is not less important than it once was, but creativity has become so invested with value that the meaning and practices of real creativity are at risk of being lost.