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How do you make people feel?

By Christian Staal

People are emotional creatures. When you’re having a discussion, creating a piece of art or helping someone you love, be mindful of your emotional impact on your fellow human beings. As Maya Angelou said: people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. 

More:

How to Win Friends and Influence People (book) by Dale Carnegie.

Origin of the Maya Angelou quote (quoteinvestigator.com).

What are you bad at?

By Christian Staal

It’s never fun to find out that you’re bad at something, but it’s often a blessing in disguise. Everybody has weaknesses, and only by seeing yours clearly, can you overcome them.

In Principles, Ray Dalio puts it eloquently: You shouldn’t be upset if you find out that you’re bad at something – you should be happy that you found out, because knowing that and dealing with it will improve your chances of getting what you want.

More:

Principles (book) by Ray Dalio [from principle #1.10e]

The Tipping Point

By Christian Staal

Ideas spread like epidemics: From one person to another. The Tipping Point occurs when an idea reaches a level of momentum, where it takes on a life of its own, and keeps rolling by itself.

More:

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Unleashing the Ideavirus by Seth Godin

The other side of the river

By Christian Staal

People tend to overestimate how well they understand each other. This is a dangerous mistake to make, because it reinforces false beliefs and blinds us to reality. Your best defense here is humility. When talking to someone who disagrees with you, don’t assume that she doesn’t understand you; assume you don’t understand her. It’s only by realising how little you know, that you get to learn more.

More:

Mindwise (book) by Nicholas Epley

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (book, habit #5) by Stephen Covey

Love the Plateau

By Christian Staal

When learning a new skill, it’s common to experience rapid progress at first, followed by a longer period of stagnation. If you want to master a skill, you will spend the majority of your time on various plateaus. This is difficult to accept, because we want quick results. If you want to become a master of a given discipline, you must learn to love the plateau.

More:

Mastery (book, chapter 4) by George Leonard

A Whole New World?

By Christian Staal

How would you re-design the world, if you didn’t know which century, country and family you would be born into? When you’re looking for moral answers to difficult problems, this question is useful, because it helps you look at the world objectively.

More:

A Theory of Justice (book) by John Rawls
The Moral Landscape (book) by Sam Harris

The Sunk Cost Fallacy

By Christian Staal

Humans hate losing, and we want our decisions to turn out well. Therefore, we sometimes overcommit to bad decisions. It’s often wiser to cut our losses. As Warren Buffet says: When you find yourself in a hole, it’s time to stop digging.

More:

Sunk cost (Wikipedia)

Think Like a Scientist: The Power of Testing

By Christian Staal

Testing is a powerful way to learn how well something works. You learn more from a day of testing, than from a year of speculation. This idea is one of the pillars of modern science, and a guiding principle in companies like Facebook. You can use this way of thinking in your own life: Instead of overthinking decisions, make small tests and course-correct along the way.

More:

The Black Swan: We Know Less About the Future Than We Think

By Christian Staal

A Black Swan is an event with the following characteristics:

  1. It’s unpredictable
  2. It carries an extreme impact
  3. It seems predictable after the fact (and people will find explanations that seem logical in hindsight, but weren’t obvious before the fact)

This makes us overconfident in our ability to predict the future. World War I, 9-11 and the rise of the Internet, are all examples of Black Swans.

More:
The Black Swan (book) by Nassim Taleb
Thinking, Fast and Slow (book) by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking, Fast and Slow

By Christian Staal

You use two systems for thinking. System 1 is fast, automatic and unconscious (when you see 2 + 2, your brain automatically says 4). System 2 is slow, deliberate and taxing on your mental resources (if you see 22 x 17, you probably need to think to find the answer). System 1 makes thousands of unconscious decisions everyday – and most of them are fine. Sometimes, however, System 1 makes mistakes, which can lead to cognitive biases.

More:

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