Category Archives for "Success Heuristics"

Helping you to think better

I’m going to ask you this when was the last time you didn’t know what to do?

The worrying thing is most of us think we already know what to do most of the time, but this doesn’t always guarantee we are making the right decisions. In fact, psychologists and sociologists will tell us that most of our behaviour is predictable, and it’s only when we are aware of what’s under the surface that we can gain the insight to think more critically about our lives.

Our lives are a result of the decisions we have made in the past, and the decisions we make now affect the life we are going to lead in the future. So if you want to change your life the logic follows that you really need to spend some time thinking about how you think and especially about how you make those decisions that will affect your future self.

There’s a theory about how we make decisions called Dual Process Theory; this theory proposes that when we make decisions, we do so in two ways with;

  • Fast unconscious (Type1) impulsive decisions or
  • Slow conscious (Type 2) reasoned decisions.

If you look at all the decisions you make in a single day; it has been found that up to 90% of the of you make are the Type 1 automatic and unconscious decisions. Commonly these are our hard wired or ‘hard-learned’ responses that happen automatically and given we are creatures habit we are probably making those same habitual decisions day in and day out.

The origin of Type 1 decisions are from instinct and repetitive habit; they are also made up of some of our innate and survival responses. This Type 1 thinking is mainly unconscious, it usually happens below our awareness, it is fast and impulsive, and because of this, it leaves itself open to errors in our thinking called cognitive biases that cause most of our errors of judgement and also some of the poor decisions that we can make in life.

Type 2 thinking is reasoned thinking, the trouble is with Type 2 thinking is that it’s more mentally tiring and it’s too slow, so we can’t run our lives on it because it’d mentally wear us out and we’d soon be overloaded by the first complex task we had to do.

Without our Type 1 thinking going on the background we’d be overwhelmed. So what we do mentally is to speed up our type 2 thinking and make it less taxing, so when we learn a new task with repetition we can imprint new mental short cuts, when we do this enough our tasks that take Type 2 thinking start to become like Type 1 tasks and similarly almost happen automatically too, think of this a bit like the expression; ‘he’s done so many he could do them in his sleep’.

We mentally construct these cognitive short cuts all the time, for instance, if I said 7 x 7 = you’d hopefully (and almost instantly say 49).

I’d also guess that none of you had to add up each of the 7’s or did any long-winded arithmetic to get the answer. Instead, you consciously employ mental shortcuts which are also called heuristics; and we employ these heuristics every day of our lives; they help us to make our daily tasks easier, quicker, and mentally less challenging to do.

When our thinking goes wrong, either it’s because our Type 1 thinking is being influenced by cognitive biases and gets distorted, or possibly because we are using the wrong mental shortcuts to speed up our type 2 decisions.

There’s a pattern to a lot of the cognitive biases, they are a predictable irrationality in our decision making, they are sometimes a deviation from what seems like common sense, and I particularly see these biases affecting a person’s thinking particularly when they are stuck in a problem.

I also see people use the wrong shortcuts and heuristics when they try and think themselves out of their problem, their learned responses to life situations are just not good enough, they haven’t the experience, the training, they’ve not learned what to do, or they just haven’t got the mental conditioning needed to process that particular problem. They don’t have what I call Success Heuristics which are the mental short cuts and patterns of thinking that really successful people consistently use.

This course concentrates introduces you to the cognitive biases that really do hold people back in life, by giving you real-life examples of how they lead people mentally astray you can learn that they exist and consciously scan your thoughts for similar examples when they happen to you so you don’t fall into the same trap.

More importantly, we can consciously override these distorted thinking patterns and make better-unbiased decisions instead. Also, I’m going to give you some rules of thumb, some examples of success heuristics and some really good mental short cuts that you can employ in certain situations to get better results.

Overriding some of your cognitive biases is called cognitive debiasing, and better mental shortcuts I call success heuristics.

We could also benefit from overriding and decoupling (this is another word psychologists use) some of our hard-wired, and hard-learned patterns of thinking especially the ones that are holding us back.

The cognitive bias which is giving you the most problems is dependent on the individual, and I’d say for most of us it’s more than just one that is causing an issue. It’s also dependent on the problems you are facing, your stress levels, and the environment you are in at the time. The same goes for mental short cuts, the success heuristic that is going to help you the most is also dependent on you and the situation you are in.

I don’t know everyone who is reading this article, I’ve never met you and all I can do is give you some real-life examples of the biased thinking patterns that commonly hold people back when they get stuck in life, and also the examples of where better mental shortcuts could make a real difference.

I have arranged the courses in a way that takes you on a journey of change, bringing in these biases and success heuristics in an order that’s going to help you the most.

Start to see the problem

The titanic sunk when it hit an iceberg, the iceberg wasn’t seen until it was too late and then as the story goes nothing could stop the catastrophe that followed. The thing is with icebergs they are hard to see and I think I still remember learning at school that up to 90% of an iceberg’s mass of ice is under the water, and this is what makes them so dangerous, and also so hard to see.

In life, we make our everyday decisions based on our memories, beliefs, values and the way we see the world. Most of our decision making is unconscious it happens under the surface, and we don’t even notice we are making those decisions. Sometimes the decisions we make are the right ones, and sometimes, unfortunately, we get things wrong and we make bad decisions too.

Most of the decisions we make in life are automatic, they are unconscious processes that cause us to do what we do, in this way we have our own personal icebergs under the surface of our consciousness driven by our instincts habits, feelings, our perceptions, expectations, and our core beliefs that all affect how we think without us really knowing this is happening.

For most of the time just like the Captain of the Titanic, we don’t see the iceberg coming and using this analogy we also don’t always see what is going on under the surface that makes us do what we do and think how we think. I want to alert you to ways of thinking that have been or could still be harmful to you to so that you can see those problems coming.

I’m going to ask you this when was the last time you didn’t know what to do? The worrying thing is most of us think we already know what to do most of the time, but this doesn’t always guarantee we are making the right decisions. In fact, psychologists and sociologists will tell us that most of our behaviour is predictable, and it’s only when we are aware of what’s under the surface that we can gain the insight to think more critically about our lives.

The techniques and technology we use

Think of our courses as a resource, as a guide, as a mentor, as a therapist, and as a coach. They have been written to help you whoever you are, whatever you aspire to be, whatever your problem, whatever your goal is, and whatever level you currently work at. They have been written to take you on a journey of discovery about yourself and maybe about the world around you.

In the various courses I’m going to guide you through common problems I have confronted with patients, I’m going to fill in a few knowledge gaps, alert you to the common cognitive biases that hold many people back, and introduce you to some commonly used therapy techniques and coaching techniques that I’ve seen work.

Firstly let’s look at the basic methodology used in this book, I will use a lot of coaching methodology because it’s a great way to structure the process of how to help you and get you going on your journey. If you didn’t already know coaching and ‘life coaching’ as it is more commonly known as today in it’s simplest form is helping you to get from where you are now to where you want to get to.

Traditionally at the highest levels in both sport and business, it is now accepted that coaching helps you to work and play to your strengths and perform to the best of your abilities, and to be the best you can be. In a more formal definition coaching can be used as a tool to help you, your team and the organisation you work for to succeed by unlocking your capabilities. I’m a GP, I’m a medical doctor, but I’m also a coach and I use coaching language and coaching techniques in the many medical consultations I have every day and I have done this for many years.

Some of the coaching techniques I will introduce you to are used by coaches who working with top CEOs and our top athletes. If you decide to take the course I will be asking you some difficult questions, and this is deliberate because this is what coaching does, it gets you to start thinking a bit differently and it helps you get clarity on not just your goals but also the things you need to do in your life to get there.

If any of these questions I ask you really resonate with you, well you also have my permission to stop reading go away take a few minutes, a few days, or as long as you need until you come up with the answers you need. This is what coaching does, it gets people to ask themselves questions, it gets them to come up with solutions, and that’s what I want to happen when you take one of our courses.

Our courses will help you figure out and coach you towards real solutions to some of the problems you are facing, we mix the coaching with a little bit of gentle therapy as you progress through the courses.

Maybe the first thing you need to do to get over a problem in your life is to be aware that the problem exists, this course will open your eyes to types of thinking that may be causing you to fail or fall short when others seem to succeed.

The way a person thinks can hold them back, so I can help you to repair some of your thinking, this is a process I’m an expert in, and this is why this book is different.

Technically I‘m going to this with something called Cognitive Debiasing (let’s call this CDB for short). If you’ve ever had that penny drop moment when everything just seems clear for the first time and you know exactly what to do well that’s probably a bit of cognitive debiasing happening in your head at that moment.

Each of the sections in this course concentrates on a different way that a person could improve their thinking, the content is ordered in a way that’ll take you on a journey.

My hope is that throughout this course you’ll have some moments of clarity.

I don’t know individually what you need to work on, I just know what most people do need to work on. So if something seems obvious fair enough, but I’ll guarantee that give the courses a bit of time, apply yourself to some of the exercises, and you’re gonna see a few things quite differently than you do now and these things are going to have a major effect on how you approach your life in many different ways.

Being successful is not all about what’s wrong it’s also about playing to your strengths and also doing what’s right, a lot of the examples and chapters in this book are of patterns of thinking that are the mental heuristics (mental short cuts) and good thinking habits I’ve seen people use to fix their problems. Some of the content, therefore, focuses on these good ways of thinking too, I call these improved patterns of thinking Success Heuristics.

I’m going to admit I’ve also pinched some of the best techniques used by therapists and psychologists all over the world, but I’ve only pinched the ones that work. There’s a big overlap between therapy, counselling, and coaching, elements of CDB can be mapped across to some of the original elements of CBT, and this can also be mapped across to some of the newer elements of NLP.

I’m a generalist I’m not bothered with which line of therapy or psychology a technique has come from, nor am I restricted just to one particular type of therapy. I just want to use something that works to help you fix that problem you need to fix.

From the start I’m not going to pull any punches in fact, I’m going to give it to you straight, I’m going to train you how to be more effective in your thinking, and by using the techniques, exercises and examples in the book you can do really start to set out on your journey towards the life you really want.

Some people need a degree of therapy to ‘solving their problems by psychological means’, others may need a bit of coaching to help them figure out how to get to where they want to get to, whilst most of us need a bit of both.

Too often a therapist tries to counsel a person when coaching is needed dragging them back into their past when all they want is to move forward. Or a coach tries to coach a person when they really need some therapy to let go of their past that is going to continue to hold them back.

In addition to coaching, counselling, success heuristics and cognitive debiasing I have written this book using my skills as an educator and as a resource for people wanting to understand the world around them and a bit more especially about the reasons why people make poor decisions or just get mentally stuck.

A bit of feedback I’ve already had is that a friend has already told me if that despite anything else all this course really does is get you to step back, learn from some of the examples and apply a bit more common sense when it’s needed.

Actually we will go into the subject of common sense a little bit later in the course, but let me just say this for now that a lot of common sense is just about doing the obvious, the problem is for people who get influenced by cognitive biases and stuck in a problematic ways of thinking they don’t see or do the obvious and common sense just doesn’t apply.

So join us and start your journey today and learn how you can start to make some better choices in your life.