Post decision dissonance

It turns out that people on the racetrack feel much more confident about their horse to be victorious after they have placed a bet.

What changed?

Because nothing about the horse or track changed. What changed is the story we tell ourselves. That somehow by betting on this horse we have now improved its chances to win.

Human beings are extremely obsessed with being consistent. Consistent with the decisions we make and to appear consistent with the people around us. That once we make a choice or take a stance, we will put pressure on ourselves to behave consistently with that commitment. Subsequently, we build a narrative to defend and justify these decisions that will drive us to do things we would normally not do to create predictable outcomes.

Changing our minds has always been perceived as some sort of weakness in our culture. We are quick to label people as “flip-floppers.” That’s a problem. It’s a problem because the world is changing faster than ever before. Every day, we come up with new ways, better processes to do things, which are inconsistent with the way things have been done around here.

Just because this has been the way it always been (consistent), it doesn’t mean that it always has to be.

For decades, it was believed that ulcers were caused by stress; until Barry Marshall shattered the consistent thinking of how stomach ulcers formed by ingesting bacteria to prove his point.

Even after his findings were published, it took years for the medical community to adopt the practice. Why? Because it wasn’t consistent with the cannon about stomach ulcers. It wasn’t consistent in the eyes of other doctors and scientists that a small university, like the University of West Australia, couldn’t possibly publish such important work.

The opportunity of our time is to learn to embrace inconsistency. To say, “knowing what we know now, we are going to act accordingly.”

It takes guts to admit that the horse we picked wasn’t the winner.

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