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Problem Solving

87 STASHED IDEAS

The expectations people have of us affect us in many hidden ways. Their expectations can dictate the opportunities we are offered, how we are spoken to, and the praise and criticism that comes to us. These nudges might influence our success in life.

The Pygmalion effect can then serve as a reminder to be aware of the potential influence of our expectations.

Mark D. (@markd17) - Profile Photo

@markd17

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Problem Solving

Carl Sagan

"The visions we offer our children shape the future. It matters what those visions are. Often they become self-fulfilling prophecies. Dreams are maps".

Many people have stories of achieving something great because someone had high expectations of them. The concept of the Pygmalion Effect is that expectations will influence performance and become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The term "Pygmalion effect" comes from studies done in the 1960s on the effect of teacher's expectations on students' IQ. If teachers had high expectations, would pupils live up to them? Although the conclusion was that the effects were negligible, the idea is widespread.

The Pygmalion effect suggests that other people's expectations can influence how we think, how we act, how we view our capabilities, and what we achieve.

In Pygmalion in Management, J. Sterling Livingston writes that managers have the ability to lower or increase the performance of their subordinates by how they treat them. If their expectations are low, productivity is likely to suffer. If managers expectations are high, productivity is likely to be excellent.

  1. Lean Into The Challenge: We normally avoid discomfort and like to get settled into our zone, avoiding challenges as we think we may fail and ruin our carefully cultivated reputation. One needs to identify any challenge that is being avoided and take it head-on.
  2. Push The Limits: We need to challenge our brain and/or the body in new ways, just like bodybuilders do, by changing the type, style or frequency of the ‘training program’ of challenges.
  3. Tactical Improvement: Find out what is the main weakness holding you back and focus your energy and time on it. It requires discipline and works to build up your confidence, as you complete your MIT (most important task).
  1. Identify a challenge that is being avoided and focus your energy on it.
  2. Mix up all the methods and the systems and habits to stress every part of the skill.
  3. Attempt new challenges to find out the main weakness.
  4. Develop deliberate practice procedures to improve the weak part.
  5. Repeat when the next plateau happens.

A popular training program among newbies at the gym is the ‘starting strength’, where the routine and techniques change every few days or weeks, in order to avoid plateaus and maximize strength gains.

It helps to switch and mix up the exercise and uses the theory of constraints to avoid any particular muscle group becoming a bottleneck.

The Inevitable Stage In Growth: Plateau

A common motivation dip is the performance plateau, when the quick and easy gains are over and done with, and slowly the momentum to keep your motivation diminishes. This feels like you have reached some sort of limit, and most people take it as a cue to settle down, and consequently stop improving.

Going beyond the plateau of contentment is crucial to hitting big goals.

  • Plato (427-347 B.C.) is the first of the central figures of ancient philosophy and he is the earliest author whose work we can read in considerable quantities. 
  • He has written about nearly all major philosophical issues and is probably most famous for his theory of universals and for his political teachings.
  • In Athens, he established a school – the Academy – at the beginning of the fourth century B.C., which remained open until 83 A.D. 
  • Aristotle (384-322B.C.) was a student of Plato and one of the most influential philosophers to date.
  • He gave an essential contribution to the development of logic, rhetoric, biology, and – among others – formulated the theories of substance and virtue ethics.
  • In 335 B.C. he founded a school in Athens, the Lyceum, which contributed to disseminate his teachings.
  • Stoicism originated in Athens with Zeno of Citium, around 300B.C.
  • Stoic philosophy is centered on a metaphysical principle: that reality is governed by logos and that what happens is necessary.
  • For Stoicism, the goal of human philosophizing is the achievement of a state of absolute tranquility. This is obtained through the progressive education to independence from one’s needs. 
  • The influence of Stoicism on the development of Western philosophy is hard to overestimate; among its most devoted sympathizers were the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the economist Hobbes, and the philosopher Descartes.
  • Pyrrho of Elis (c. 360-c. 270 B.C.) is the earliest figure in ancient Greek skepticism on record.
  • Probably influenced by the Buddhist tradition of his time, Pyrrho viewed the suspension of judgment as a means to achieve that freedom of disturbance that alone can lead to happiness.
  • His goal was to keep each human’s life in a state of perpetual inquiry. Indeed, the mark of skepticism is the suspension of judgment.
  • The teachings of ancient skeptics exercised a deep influence on a number of major Western philosophers, including Michel de Montaigne, Renè Descartes and David Hume. 
Ancient Greek Philosophy
  • Ancient Greek philosophy extends from as far as the seventh century B.C. up until the beginning of the Roman Empire, in the first century A.D.
  • It distinguishes itself from other early forms of philosophical and theological theorizing for its emphasis on reason as opposed to the senses or the emotions.
  • During this period five great philosophical traditions originated: the Platonist, the Aristotelian, the Stoic, the Epicurean, and the Skeptic.
  • Favorite themes include the principle of reality, the good; the life worth being lived; the distinction between appearance and reality, etc.
  • Throughout history, Epicureanism has often been misunderstood as a doctrine preaching indulgence into the most vicious bodily pleasures.
  • On the contrary, Epicurus himself was known for his temperate eating habits, and for his moderation. His exhortations were directed towards the cultivation of friendship as well as any activity which most elevates our spirits, such as music, literature, and art. 
  • Among its metaphysical principles are the theses that our world is one out of many possible worlds and that what happens does so by chance.

If people are made to develop certain basic and related skills, including foundational understanding in an objective way, they perform better at certain tasks.

Being aware of the blindspots that one can have, the emotional awareness that one may not have, or about the nature of Dunning-Kruger Effect can help individuals who are already aware to some extent that they might not be the centre of the universe after all.

We are heavily blind-spotted with regards to our unknown unknowns as we continue to believe our own rhetoric and start to project it on others.

Our delusion is further complicated by the fact that even if people point to us our problem, we are unable to believe them, due to our lack of emotional awareness.

As most people do not like ambiguity and uncertainty, they are much more comfortable in knowing something even if it is completely false.

Knowing something wrong is better than nothing, as our beliefs let us make sense of the world, which is subjective by every measure.

  1. Do not ridicule them, as it can make them defensive.
  2. Provide examples and gently guide their minds towards the possibility that their belief may not be true.
  3. Being humble, unbiased and objective are important values that can be nurtured in all, especially youngsters.

To overcome the paradox of overcoming our own ignorance is itself a contradiction due to the fact that we need to look for something that we cannot see.

This is the same contradiction experienced by any conspiracy theorist: The basic premise of their belief (even if it is right) is based on zero-reasoning and the foundation that only they are the reasonable ones.

Ignorance Of Our Own Ignorance

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is the mind's tendency to overestimate one’s own knowledge or competence and to underestimate one’s own ignorance. It usually occurs when the information is unknown to us, with one peculiar complication: The information that something is unknown to us is also unknown to us.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is essentially a meta-layer of ignorance. Example: drivers who pride themselves as being competent and safe drivers making highly unsafe driving errors.

Bertrand Russell

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”

  • Known Knowns: Things we know, like how to ride a bicycle.
  • Known Unknowns: Stuff we don’t understand, like quantum physics.
  • Unknown Knowns: Things we know but never realized that we knew it. Most of it comes naturally to us, like parenting or crying.
  • Unknown Unknowns: This is the information we have no clue about, and we don’t even know the fact that we don’t have a clue about this.

Most people have information in all these four types, making each brain a combination of a labyrinth and a jigsaw puzzle.

Decision-making people: Maximisers

Maximisers compare everything before making a decision, setting very high standards and expectations for themselves.

They often feel disappointed with their final decision after making it.

FOBO: Fear of Better Options

Whether it is deciding what to watch on TV, or which job offer to accept, Fobo (Fear of better options) can affect anyone.

A Fobo-afflicted person may not make a decision due to wanting complete information or simply be overwhelmed with the daunting options.

Technology accelerates FOBO

Sophisticated apps and social media only accelerate FOBO, giving us unlimited options. We are unable to decide due to a constant flow of new plans, events, invitations or commitments.

Decision-making people: Satisficers

Satisficers are the ones that make "good enough" decisions, have modest expectations and are generally happier and more satisfied after making their decision.

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