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Stop Your Bias: How To Fix Unconscious Human Error

“Realise that life is not happening to you, it’s happening for you.”

The most critical element to sustaining success in life and business is learning how to view the world properly. Regardless of how smart you may be, you may have not taken the time to sit and reflect on how you view the world in relation to your business, your customers, and how the universe is responding to your behavior.

Objective thinking gives you an opportunity to understand the world around you from the perspective of others, which is a huge advantage.

Business is like an analogy for life. It’s a microcosm of life itself. A little world inside of the world we all share. In this sense, business is like a game. A sport. A war. A social club.

You have already learned multiple ways to view the world.

When you’re a kid you learned to view the world as a student, as a daughter or son, as a friend, as an athlete. And as an adult, you’ve learned to view the world as a worker, as a mother or father, as a spouse, as a professional, and many others on the fringe, like a political party member, member of religious affiliation, or the school board.

Little story, parable, you’ve probably heard it before. It’s been used a million times throughout the years. It talks about a group of blind men who happen upon an elephant.

(The elephant is not blind, the group of men are blind.)

 

The blind men gather all around it and they start feeling it, trying to figure out what it is. One guy is feeling the tusk, the other is feeling its tail, another is feeling its hide, another one has the snout of its trunk in both hands. They start describing what they think it is.

The man who was touching the tusk says “this thing is cold and hard, sharp like a spear.”

The man touching the side says “it is tall and flat, and solid, like a wall.”

The one holding the trunk says “clearly you’ll see it is like a big snake.”

And the one feeling the tail says “this thing is like a rope. I mean I kind of get the snake thing, but clearly a rope.”

So they get mad at each other and start arguing because they each seem to be misrepresenting what they have in front of them.

The truth is that neither the one touching the tusk, nor the tail, nor the trunk, nor the side would be able to discern the objective truth: What they are actually touching is the Elephantidae sum of its parts. The moral of the story being, what you see is subjective truth: That which is only a partial truth.

The story goes on to say that another man who was not blind showed up and stops this blind group of men from arguing and says “hey, fellas, you are all wrong and all right at the same time. It is partially all of the things you guys are saying, but when you look at it from far away you can see the whole thing. And what that thing is, is an elephant.”

Have you ever been the third person in a conversation that becomes an argument between the two, and maybe they asked you for input? Your first thought may have been, ‘you two are so dumb!’ In those situations where you are a neutral third party, you’re able to see both sides equally. You’re able to see how both people likely have it partially wrong. It may even seem funny to you. But to the two people, they do not think it is funny. They are seriously pissed!

There you are laughing at them because it’s so obvious to you the truth of the situation. Neither of them can see the whole truth, only their partial truth.

That is what you need to be able to do with your life in order to navigate in business in order to minimize your human error and your exposure to unknown risks and to keep from going crazy and burning out too early.

To see things objectively instead of subjectively. To see things as they are, not as they are from your point of view.

We tend to perceive the world in a very one-sided way.

Only sometimes do we peer over the fence and see both sides of a situation.

When you’re watching your friends fight with their significant other you may laugh inside because of how silly it seems to you.

But when it’s you in their shoes, you feel exactly how they feel.

We only see a partial version of reality because we only have one camera – one computer – and everyone has their own unique computer that they have been building throughout their life from their own unique human experience.

We are all plugged into this multi-user network that we call life. 

We wake up in the morning, our mental computer whirrs on, the camera lenses open up, we get out of bed and our operating system starts running.

Everyone we meet has their own little operating system whirring as they interact with us and then go on about their life.

When you interact with people you are seeing them from your perspective, but you aren’t seeing them from their perspective. And you’re not seeing you from their perspective. Who knows what you look like to them.

And you’re also not seeing them from the person who is seeing you two seeing each other. Because they’re getting a faraway side view they can see their whole body and your whole body. And meanwhile, the two of you are only looking at the top half of one another.

Kinda freaky huh?

Our experience of life, our entire existence, is made up of five or six senses. Right? So anything you can not perceive with taste, smell, touch, hear… the other one…

You can’t taste someone else’s tasting. You can’t see what someone else is seeing. Because you two can never be looking at the same thing from the exact same angle at the exact same time. All you know is what you either feel, taste, touch, smell, or hear.

All that we think and believe is based on those 5 things.

Nor can you possibly feel exactly what someone else is feeling.

“No that’s not true, every time my best friend is sad, I feel sad and I know it’s because they’re sad.”

OKAY BESIDE THAT.

The importance of taking an objective viewpoint on things in life as a businessperson. 

It helps you navigate through difficult situations with much greater ease when you can take yourself out of a situation for a moment and look at it from a higher level.

Doing so preserves your energy so you come home with some still left in the tank. And you can play with your kids or go out with friends or hit the gym. Whatever you like to do.

The amount of business that you’ll do is directly related to how youll you get along with people. It’s a direct link. The better you are at communicating with people, the more customers you’ll have. But more important than getting customers is knowing how to make the right decisions from the wrong decisions. Because if you take risk completely off the table – if you figure out the rules so that you truly do face only upside potential versus minimal downside risk – you can go as slow as you want and you’ll never lose.

Recommended Reading for Fixing Your Unconscious Biases & Human Error:

and…this video lecture from Charlie Munger, the Psychology of Human Misjudgement.

Highly recommend you go out and read these books, whether you order them on Amazon or buy them at the bookstore or rent them at the library or listen to an audiobook. You might not be a reader. Teaching myself to read and creating a habit of reading on a regular basis has changed my life. If you’re not a reader, I recommend audiobooks. You can listen to them in the car while you commute to work or with your earphones as you work out at the gym or while you do house chores. As long as you are getting the information in your brain.

These books with change your mind forever and greatly improve the quality of your interactions with people.

But no matter how good we get at communicating and getting along with people, we all suffer from many cognitive biases and logical fallacies that our brains develop through adaptation. We learn behaviors from our parents and school teachers and other older people in the early stages of life that, unchecked, hold us back from getting the most out of our interactions.

These cognitive biases are like errors in the way we think and the way we make judgments and decisions. The reason why we do them is so that we can make decisions easier and faster without having to expend our precious and limited brainpower. And we do them so fast that we don’t even realise we are making these mental mistakes.

I learned a lot about cognitive biases and human error from watching this video lecture from Charlie Munger called The Psychology of Human Misjudgement. In it he goes over the 25 main cognitive biases and logical fallacies that you perform all the time. Our brains are making incorrect assumptions all the time, and we are behaving and making decisions based on judgments that we perceive to be accurate, but they are not. I encourage you to watch this lecture when you have some free time.

There are over 100 known cognitive biases, and about 20-25 main ones that we encounter all the time. Even just being able to recognize a few will change the way you see things forever.

As you study them they will start to spring up all the time. As you recognize them you will have an opportunity to react differently than you would if you hadn’t noticed.

It’s also important to note that many marketers, entrepreneurs, advertisers, salespeople, and businesspeople consciously acknowledge and study the cognitive biases and logical fallacies, and use them to craft their message, persuade business decisions, and influence sales. All the best ones do. And as soon as you learn them you will find so many opportunities to use them to your advantage.

It’s not about manipulating people or tricking them, it’s about knowing how our brain works so that we don’t get tricked. So that you can speak to people in a way that is most effective.

If you’re a bad person, you’re already manipulating people and you have developed a natural understanding of these biases. If you’re a good person, you will use this power to help people make decisions that change their lives for the better always and protect them from the bad people by educating them to these principles.

When you go into business everyone tells you about how risky it is. That you’re risking everything to go into business.

As all-time great investor Warren Buffett said, risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.

Example 1/3

Authority Bias

Authority bias is a thinking pattern that gives figures of authority more credibility and respect. Even if you are uncertain of the information. Even if they’re not a particularly knowledgeable person.

The danger of our brains performing this routine thinking pattern unconsciously is, just like you would believe a doctor who gives you medical advice, you are just as likely to believe any person who is wearing a white lab coat.

This is actually a dangerous thing, and you are affected by it in trivial ways all the time with commercials and ads, but also in everyday situations when people act like they are an authority on a subject, when they are not. You consume the information like an expert just told you… but it wasn’t an expert.

Example 2/3

Anecdotal Fallacy

Anecdotal fallacy is a bias that convinces us something is true that happened to someone you know, or even someone that they know.

If your cousin Megan tried a product that didn’t work, and said, oh no don’t try that product because I tried it and it had no effect whatsoever. You are likely going to believe that if you buy that product and try it, it will have absolutely no effect on you. Without actually ever researching the data to find out what percentage of people it has produced results.

We are likely to make judgments on something based on anecdotal evidence, instead of sound statistical evidence.

Example 3/3

Cheerleader Effect

Another fun example of cognitive bias is the “cheerleader effect.” This is the brain error that occurs when you see a group of attractive people. On their own, someone may not seem to be a very attractive person, but when put into a group of people, their attractiveness perception goes way up.

So our brain is passing incorrect judgment all the time without our knowledge. Judged by my portrait alone, a research group might rate me very low on the attractiveness scale. When judged in a small group of my peers, my attractiveness ought to go up. When judged in a slightly larger group? Up even more. Then at a certain point it, starts to go down again. This is what is known as the cheerleader effect. Our brain makes an inaccurate judgment of how something appears when in a group of similar things. Which is an important thing to know if you are someone who often makes important decisions.

Here’s are 7 important cognitive biases that you need to understand and pay attention to, particularly in business. It’s worth watching a 4-5 minute youtube video about each, or reading the book Influence by Robert Cialdini.

  1. Availability/Scarcity
  2. Authority
  3. Reward/Punishment
  4. Liking/Mutual Self-Interest
  5. Social Proof/
  6. Reciprocity/Reciprocal Altruism
  7. Contrast Misreaction/Decoy Effect

Eliminating mental mistakes is something you can always do to improve your game and take it where talent, time, or resources limit it. Get that?

When life stops going your way and you feel your momentum starting to slow, it is a good idea to start tuning up your mental game, eliminating mental mistakes.

Change your mind, change your life.

Eliminating mistakes is one method that you can always use to improve your life.

When you can’t get any better, when you can’t find any more time, when you don’t have enough resources to get you where you want to go, start eliminating mistakes.

And when you understand the cognitive biases like:

  • Confirmation bias, which is the way that you tend to agree with things you have already agreed with
  • Liking bias, which is how you tend to like things more if they relate to us
  • Authority bias, which is how you give certain things or people more credibility if they give off the sense in some way that they are an authority figure

Like a person wearing a lab coat in a TV commercial saying some random medical fact, you are more likely to believe them because they look like how an expert looks, even though logically you can determine that they are just an actor with a lab coat on. But the brain doesn’t have time to compute the many million instances of information it receives in one waking day.

The brain works to only present to us the information that we have predetermined is important. It uses the reticular activation system to notice, or instantly recall information related to something that you desire, know, or think about frequently.

Example: You just bought a car. You thought you’d be the only one who has it. Now that you’ve got it, you see it on the road all the time. You’re bummed because you think more people have purchased that car since you got yours. When in truth, the car has always been out there, you just didn’t have it as an object of interest at the time.

The reason you need to know how your brain works to make decisions is that the success of your business depends on how frequently you make good decisions.

When you look at things objectively, you can make decisions from a calm, balanced mood. When you let your subjective perspective dictate how you interpret what you are experiencing, you make decisions from a very stressed state, your emotions tend toward fear and anger, which are emotions controlled by the more primitive inner part of your brain.

It’s even true that your brain is around 10% more efficient while smiling, and up to 30% when you’re genuinely happy. So be open minded, break a subtle smile, and you’ll be up to 30% less stupid than you are otherwise!

When you use your brain to look at things objectively, you’re able to think clearly and actually use the higher thinking part of your brain to think. You will make more wise decisions in those situations. You will benefit from those situations and likely so will the other person. You will develop stronger relationships with people and make more money and be happier. It all starts with taking a step outside of yourself every time you face a difficult situation and viewing it from a 3rd person perspective.

Ride The Fence

When I’m in a difficult situation, I like to imagine myself stepping outside of my body, climbing up onto a fence that’s in between me and the other person, and watching as each of us tosses our perspective over the fence to the other person.

People tend to use the expression ‘sitting on the fence’ like it’s a bad thing. In some cases, when it refers to being indecisive, it is a bad thing to be indecisive.

But when it comes to being objective and truth-seeking, neither person on either side of a fence can see the other side, yet they are trying to convince the person on the other side that their side is better.

When you let yourself become the “you” that observes, instead of the “you” that participates, then you can see things for what they are. You can navigate the situation with an advantageous perspective. Because you’re on top of the fence, you can clearly see both sides. Only then can you act forthrightly.

As Yogi Bhajan, the great yogi teacher once said: “If you are willing to look at another person’s behavior toward you as a reflection of the state of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement about your value as a person, then you will, over a period of time, cease to react at all.”

The Ego

“We all have an ego.” You’ve probably heard that expression before. What most people mean by the ego is pridefulness. People frown upon egotism because it leads to stubbornness and poor decision making.

You’ve probably heard someone say that a certain person has a big ego. But few people actually can conceptualise what their ego actually is. What is an ego? And why is it important for us to know what our ego is? Why do so many people say that having an ego is a bad thing? Is it a bad thing?

I believe ego gets in the way of 95% of people’s success. I can point to a hundred specific times in my life that my ego kept me from having the life I wanted to have, or the joy I should have had from the life I already did have. And I can also, in the same breath, tell you that ego is the number one reason I have achieved any success at all in life.

I’ve spent years studying the ego because in 2014 I had a major mental meltdown. I was dealing with 4 or 5 years of unresolved depression. I was starting to have suicidal thoughts and everything in my life was pointing toward an early exit. I knew I had a huge, unchecked ego and so when I started going through therapy for my depression I made sure to focus on my ego. Because everyone says that ego is a bad thing, I got the impression that in order to heal myself from depression I would have to kill my ego. Another common expression you may have heard.

“Kill your ego.” This is a popular term in yoga and meditation culture, especially amongst beginners. And so I worked hard to kill my ego, through therapy, meditation, reading a lot of spiritual books.

I traveled through the desert to meditate with yogis, I traveled into the forest and found myself with psychedelics, I re-soiled my mind with new knowledge from books and self-help programs. And eventually, I did kill my ego.

I reached whatever place in my mental, social, psychological, spiritual state that reflected an absolute calmness, a oneness with nature if you will. I felt peace. I no longer cared what people thought of me. I no longer had the crippling desire to be liked and popular that I carried with me my entire life. I no longer had misery over desires for seemingly impossible achievements. I was renewed as a babe, a sheep, and I thought all my worries and problems would cease to exist. Why wouldn’t they? I have no more worries or cares! I thought this was the magic, the secret, the answer to all of life’s problems.

I was pretty much brand new to the business at the time. I was making some money in business, but very new to selling and new to making my income grow through sales and making deals. And I thought that because I was this newly enlightened being, I would have no problem getting through to people and manifesting my desires and attracting all the good things into my life with relative ease. But that’s not how things worked out for me.

Why do you think that is?

Because nobody else in the world of business that I was interacting with, had gone through the same transformation! Nobody else was operating from a state of inner peace. Nobody else felt oneness with nature. Nobody else cared whether or not I was enlightened or not.

I quickly realized that without the ego, you have no ambition to improve ourselves because our idea of the self becomes very minuscule. You’re already happy! You needn’t pursue.

The thing that makes you a ‘you’ is the ego. Without the ego, there is no you. There is only everything else, as your paradigm melts into oneness with nature.

In A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, he says this about the ego. He says, “ego means self-identification with thinking, to be trapped in thought. Which means to have a mental image of “me” based on thoughts and emotions. So ego is there, in the absence of a witnessing presence.”

Eckhart Tolle is someone who talks about the ego as being a very negative thing that holds people back from experiencing happiness, which is true in a lot of ways.

Ego can be a bad thing. Ego unchecked is a bad thing, clearly. And for most people, their ego goes unchecked for the majority of their lives. Some never have their egos checked hard enough and live their entire lives in the deceit and treachery of their own lack of self-awareness.

But ego can also be a very good thing.

Ego is the thing that makes us see the world subjectively, but because of that it is also the thing that makes us see the world as it relates to our own good.

I knew I had to build my ego back up again in order to properly orient my purpose in life as a human being. In order to properly orient my ambition and my decisiveness. Because without ego, you cannot fulfill a life purpose, because without ego there is no real “you.” “You” are an energy unit that is navigating its way through time and space along a specific path.

Albert Einstein had a different “ego equation”.

Albert Einstein, the great mathematician and philosopher, said that Ego is ‘You divided by Your knowledge.’

The less knowledge you have the bigger your ego, because you think you know whether or not you actually know. And I like that explanation. But this assumption about the ego does not factor for my achievement variable. Most negative assumptions about the ego do not factor that ego is a prerequisite for achievement.

The ancient philosopher Lao Tzu said, “if you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.” You’ll see that doesn’t happen when you kill your ego. Nor does it happen when you have an unruly ego.

We must conclude that the ego is an inalienable and absolutely necessary part of “you.” And that it is a tool you must wield properly in order to cleave through the difficulty of affecting your external environment. It is simultaneously a dangerous tool that can quickly get out of hand, rule you, and drive you to ruin.

That’s what I mean by the importance of seeing things objectively.

To see things as they actually are, instead of just as they are from your perspective, is one of the most valuable traits possessed by every great achiever throughout history.

Every great billionaire has been able to see things objectively, not just from their point of view. and that’s how they’re able to serve so many people who traded them money for a service or product that added value to their lives.

You have to see a thing from every perspective before you can see that thing accurately. That includes your own perspective.

Your perspective, the other person involved’s perspective, a third or fourth party’s perspective, and even a global perspective, which is the external view of all perspectives.

When you’re able to see things from all perspectives at once and understand the truth of the situation immediately, I call that God Mode. William Walker Atkinson calls it the “MASTERMIND.”

But really both are just cool nicknames for being able to see things from a for-purpose, enlightened perspective. From God’s perspective.

So it’s important for us to start taking a look at our own ego. It’s important for us to understand our ego as it is right now, and to know where it is misleading us, and to know where it is actually helping us out in life because it’s certainly doing both. One hand helps the other. We can’t have the bad without the good or the good without the bad in life.

How can I use ego to my advantage?

All-day long people are talking to themselves about their own life, and when you come into the frame talking about you they tune you right out. There are parts of the brain that are so programmed to ignore stuff outside our bubble that as soon as we hear the word ‘I’ we are already checking out.

 I.

You.

Which word felt better to hear?

When something is about you, it feels valuable. No matter what it is. Even when you see ‘What pokemon are you?’ you still want to invest your precious time to find out.

Speak through the voice of your customer.

They will then pay attention to you, because you become like a mirror of their soul – you’re speaking their language. You connect with them more because you’re speaking their language.

“I want you to buy my new product today.”

“You can and should buy my new product today.”

Dale Carnegie in his book How To Win Friends And Influence People said, “names are the sweetest sound in any language. He said, “Using a person’s name is crucial, especially when meeting those you don’t see very often. Respect and acceptance stem from simple acts such as remembering a person’s name and using it whenever appropriate.”

Verily I tell you, even if you have experienced success in your business thus far, you have missed opportunities and left money on the table many times for your lack of knowledge of certain principles.

How to see things objectively,

How to communicate effectively,

How to understand correct your mind,

The importance of expanding your knowledge,

And how to master your ego.

These foundational concepts are a framework for you to start to use to perceive the world.

How much are you willing to change in order to live right, to limit your mistakes, to increase your chance of sustained success?

The universe is waiting to see how you are going to behave now that you have this knowledge.

It’s time for you to live with conviction and become the ultimate version of yourself in life and in business.

For more on this topic and other related topics, please visit my blog: www.anthonypolanco.com and my Instagram account @Antpstyle