Advantage

Imagine starting a rigged game of Monopoly where a rich player and a poor player is assigned by a coin flip. If you won the coin flip, you would get two dice instead of one to move around the board faster and twice the amount of money every time you passed Go.

Well, that is what Paul Piff did.

It turns out, the rich players began to demonstrate rude behaviors by making exaggerated moves like banging their pieces louder on the board. They would excessively celebrate. They showed signs of greed by taking extra Pretzels from the bowl. And when they got stuck, they began to say things like, “I’ll just buy my way out.”

The astounding thing, and I’m not making this up, is when Piff asked about their experience of the game, the rich players would boast about their brilliant moves and tactics of how they played while completely ignoring the fact that a simple coin flip at the beginning gave them clear advantage.  

Born on third, thinks he hit a triple.

It’s not just with Monopoly.

The rich drive differently than the poor. Those who drive fancier cars are less considerate of pedestrians and cut other drivers off more frequently.

So, here’s a question, is wealth simply a coin flip? Is it a matter of zip code, race, gender, family you are born into?

If so, then…

Why are the rich “more likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class individuals, exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies, take valued goods from others, lie in a negotiation, cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize and endorse unethical behavior at work than were lower-class individuals.”

Or have we built a system that encourages this behavior?

Here’s the thing, the brain works overtime to build a narrative, a story, that will protect us.

We often think that something happens and then we form a system around that to explain it. But, in fact, the opposite is true. Something happens and then we cherry-pick the information to reinforce the system we have already built.

A map already drawn. A story already told.

This is why we are so good at tellings stories of the moves we made in a rigged game of Monopoly while ignoring clear advantages.

When faced with a choice to be grateful or inhale, we can’t help but inhale.

That is why things like prosperity theology is so prevalent in our world today. We search for stories that make us feel better—to justify our actions, not change them.

The high dive

Jumping off the high dive is a very committing process.

Once you do it, there is no going back.

It’s much easier then to make the decision while on the ground.

The worst place, however, is to decide when you are standing on the edge, peering over into the abyss.

Far too often, we are standing on the edge of something great and daring, but we hesitate. We blink. We say to ourselves, “I’m not cut out for this.”

You are far less likely to take a leap standing on the edge.

The alternative then, is to commit before stepping up the ladder.

The good news is, after you have made the leap once, it’s easier to do it again.

Because it’s far easier to do things we can imagine.

Convenience isn’t the answer to everything

The other day, I went to Barnes and Noble to find eight new copies of The Coaching Habit for our summer course. Without even thinking about it until I got there, I realized that it was highly unlikely that they would have eight copies of this book in stock.

I bought the one they had and went to Amazon for the other seven. Sure enough, it was delivered to my door (at a cheaper price) that night.

Convenient.

Later that night, I had no car with me to grab take out. So, I just ordered food from Door Dash. 25 minutes later, I had fresh naan and curry delivered to my door.

Convenient.

Just when you think we couldn’t make things more convenient, we go ahead and do.

Thanks to Netflix’s continuous play, I don’t have to think about whether I’ll watch the next episode. You don’t even need to think about what to watch since it does a fairly good job recommending shows.

Finding a job and submitting a resume is now convenient. Texting instead of calling is convenient. Soon, it will be even more convenient to drive (subscription based, self-driving cars).

One thing though that remains inconvenient is education.

Even with the convenience of online education, 80% of those who sign up for a course will drop out in the first two weeks.

Not everything is ready to be convenient. Diving deep, really learning a subject, getting into the heart of the matter is when change can begin to happen.

The answer then, when something is inconvenient might be to lean in.

Because inconvenience is what get’s our bodies into shape. Inconvenience helps us finish things like med school.

If it is inconvenient, it’s probably important.

Embrace it.

Once you see it, you can’t unsee it

First, we have the famous example of the faces/candlestick illusion. The question is, which do you see? The faces or the candlestick?

Image result for candlestick or faces

That one is pretty easy to figure out, especially since you’ve probably done this before.

Let’s do another.

Down below you will see what is known as the Candlestick Problem. The way it goes is that the player must fix and light a candle on the wall in a way where the candle wax doesn’t drip onto the table below.

The rules: You may only use the following along with the candle, a book of matches and a box of thumbtacks.

Image result for the candlestick problem

If you are like most, you would have started out by using the thumbtacks to try and stick the candle to the wall. And if you are like most, you’ll find out that it doesn’t work.

As Daniel Pink points out, the answer is easy to see once we remove the thumbtacks from the box. From there, you use the thumbtacks to nail the box to the wall, put the candle into the box and light the candle with the match.

Image result for the candlestick problem

Functional fixedness is real.

When we give instructions we are designing choices. The same goes for stating a problem or offering multiple choices to a problem.

We limit the scope of what people can see based on what we say. When we put up guardrails, set up boundaries, put people in a box…we have a difficult time seeing outside of it.

Illusions are powerful and subtle. They are all over in the culture. Like this one:

Image result for fedex logo

It’s worth noting, most boundaries are illusions.

Once you see them, you can’t unsee them. Truth works the same way. Once you begin to see, you can begin to work through conflicts of interest.

The challenge is figuring out which boundaries to break and identifying which ones keep us safe.

What if the problem has no answer?

Is it chronic?

Because it might mean that this is something you have to live with.

To be clear though, most things, you don’t have to live with.

You don’t have to live with your dead-end job the rest of your life even though it can feel that way.

Are you stuck?

Because it might mean you have to build a better system.

Human beings have this unique ability to jump in and out of system thinking to better understand the problem as a whole. We can ask questions like What’s it for? and Why?

Is this a cycle of infinity?

Problems will always exist. Because once you solve one, two more pop up in its place.

Better questions lead to better explanations, not the elimination of problems forever.

Are you focused on the wrong thing?

You might not be asking the right questions.

You might have to dive deeper than a simple Google search.

Tuning in or tuning out?

For decades, television networks have trained us to tune in to prime time television (TGIF, Super Bowl, Must See TV). That all ended after Seinfeld.

The internet is the opposite. There is no one channel to tune in to but an infinity of micro-channels. Anytime. Anywhere. Anyplace. For everyone.

Even though, TV was designed to watch commercials, for the most part, we just chose to tune them out. (You would run to the bathroom during commercials but you certainly didn’t take your TV with you.)

Netflix changed things again too. Prime time might now mean 3:00 AM so that you can be the first to finish a series.

When we remove layers of inconvenience (continuous play, one click shopping, longer battery life, video recommends…), you increase participation.

It’s worth asking then, when you are tuning in, what are you tuning out?

Tuning in has never been easier to do. The challenge of our day is learning how to tune out the noise that don’t make our lives better.

Give hope

Hope isn’t tangible.

You can’t record it on a spreadsheet.

It isn’t measured.

And you can’t store it for later.

It’s a feeling experienced in the moment.

Feelings are amplified when we share them.

Because hope is too good not to share.

I’m not sure if there is a human emotion worse than hopelessness?

Even with all the pain, suffering and adversity one faces…when there’s hope, there’s deliverance.

If you can choose to give anything to the world, give hope.