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Cognitive Bias and Success Heuristics

Dr Jeff Stoker

A Cognitive Bias is a distortion in how you think which can lead to an error of judgement or a lack of common sense. There are well over 200 of these cognitive biases that have been shown to influence our thinking typically when we try and make a decision or when we are confronted by problems.

The important message to take home here is that cognitive bias affects the decisions you make, how you behave, and fundamentally how you cope in your life.

Not being able to cope is not a good thing, but coping in the wrong way can be much much worse, so understanding the thinking behind why you do what you do is often the first thing you need to know before changes can be made in your behaviour.

If you want to change first you need to change your thinking.

Cognitive biases can distort how you think and they can cause you to continue to make bad decisions, a cognitive bias can also cause you to get stuck in your thinking so that you fail to see what you really need to do even to blind you to simple common sense.

Success heuristics are those ‘rules of thumb’, those mental short cuts, those positive thinking habits, and cognitive traits that lead towards a successful outcome.

These success heuristics can be learned, and they can be used to improve how you think, how you act, and especially if you want to improve or become successful in some aspect of your life.

Often it’s only by losing some of your cognitive biases and learning some of life’s success heuristics can you start to make the changes you really need to make.

Our blogs, our courses, and the books I’ve written will help you explore the way you think, why you get it wrong, why you get stuck and how you can think better.

Most of the time our cognitive biases happen unconsciously, and the degree of how this bias influences our thinking is especially increased in times of stress. On the other hand, our success heuristics can also be drilled and practised to happen automatically at these times too.

Bad thinking at bad times leads to disaster, whilst good thinking at these times leads to far better outcomes.

Abraham Maslow the American psychologist said;

‘I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail’.

Abraham Maslow 1966

So for some of you, our articles, courses and books will help you to look at what you need to change in your thinking or using Maslow’s metaphor show you what needs hammering, and for some, we can also help you to stop you hammering your head against that brick wall too.

Our courses will also give you a few more mental tools other than that hammer, and I want to show you how you can use them to start building a better life too.

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About the author

Dr Jeff Stoker

Clinician, writer, educator, speaker, and problem expert. Helping people to think better, to solve problems, and get their lives unstuck.

Winner of the Coaching and NLP in Healthcare Award at the 2018 ANLP International Conference.

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