Why teens go through a rebellious phase

The teacher that is demanding her students to be compliant is exercising her status.

The boss who is requesting for everyone to come in on Saturday to submit the TPS reports is leveraging status.

And when parents say, “Because I said so…” they are, again, using status.

Status is everywhere.

When trying to get what we want, our first instinct is to use our status.

And the reason that there is so much conflict with teens is not that they are hormonal or difficult to work with; it is because they want to be seen as someone with higher status.

“I’m not a child anymore,” says pretty much everyone at that age.

The good news is that someone doesn’t have to lose in order to win. You can raise the status of others around you without lowering someone else in the process.

It’s important to understand that much of our conflicts are formed around this tug-o-war of status:

Who’s up? Who’s down? Who gets to eat first? What is the pecking order?

We can simply decide to play a different game, one where status isn’t won or lost after each interaction.

Exiting stage left

Imagine turning around every time we come across a downed tree. Or waiting for the escalator to be fixed before we start walking.

With so many choices, we think the path from Point A to Point B should be filled without adversity.

The downed tree is the perfect excuse to go home. “Oh well, I tried.”

Too many choices have created a stranglehold: when faced with adversity, we look around and say, “Is this really worth it?” When tempted with a way out, we will often choose to exit.

Which makes sense if you really think about it. No one has a problem starting med school or starting a diet. No, the hard part is finishing med school or finishing a diet.

No one is forcing us to walk the path of resistance. With attention mining so prevalent, its no wonder that the average American watches over 5 hours a day of television per day.

What in the world are we doing?

It’s hard to imagine a world of education outside of school. We spend over two decades being taught to be more compliant, to be more average, to fit in…We don’t pick ourselves, we wait to be told what to do next.

Is there any path worth taking that doesn’t have a dip?

The long line

Eventually, the marathon runner forgets each step of each mile and begins to embrace the race.

Every well-practiced piano player must stop thinking about each individual note they must play and start thinking about the whole piece.

This is called the long line. Shifting from what is to what could be.

For Abraham Lincoln, it was about abolishing slavery and reuniting a country. Nelson Mandela thought about his long line for 27 years while he was held captive in prison.

Today, Catherine Hoke is challenging our false assumptions we make about people with criminal histories and is creating a long line of second chances.

We can’t change the world without first imagining it.

HT Ben Zander


It’s extremely difficult to pick up sarcasm on the internet.

Take this simple statement:

“Aren’t you a little old to be tricker treating?”

Am I being serious or sarcastic?

Am I really digging in or just using sarcasm as a chance to hide?

Two techniques to signal that what you are writing shouldn’t be taken too seriously:

  1. Use the /s to indicate sarcasm. “Aren’t you a little old to be tricker treating? /s”
  2. Use a different font or a string of Upper and Lowercase letters. “ArEn’T yOu A lItTlE oLd To Be TrIcKeR tReAtInG?”

Better yet: Skip the sarcasm altogether.

Whenever I have used it, I immediately regret it. Especially, when someone doesn’t understand the signal that I sent. And that’s the thing. It is so easy to misinterpret what is being conveyed in public forums.

People already have a hard time reading what others are saying with the use of body language, voice inflection, point of emphasis…take that all out of the equation and we are left with noise.

Noise in our head that gets in the way of seeing what is actually happening. Noise that clouds our judgment, amplifies our fears and confirms our biases.

Giving an A

“We don’t give children a name as an expectation to live up to. No, we give children a name as a possibility to live into.”

Labels are a human invention. When one label is not working, we can simply pick a new one.

Roz and Ben Zander have an interesting take on this. The idea is that you can give anyone in your life an A.

You can give your boss an A, your mother-in-law an A, the police officer that is writing you a ticket, you can give him an A too.

If we are going to label someone we might as well give them a label that makes them better. Better labels open the door for more possibilities.

Here’s the thing:

If I’ve accepted the label that I’m a bad public speaker, then I won’t see myself as someone who gives a TED talk. So, why would I ever apply?

If the school administrator has listed me as a troubled student, there are teachers that will treat me differently.

If no one in my neighborhood goes to college, why try to graduate high school?

In contrast, if people see me as an A student then my A work begins to shine.

Labels matter. As Jerry Cologna has pointed out, over time, we become complicit in the conditions that we constantly recreate.

This is not to suggest that we want a doctor to perform open-heart surgery who didn’t pass med school. No, this is about shedding judgments and strangleholds that grades hold in our culture.

Because once we give someone less than an A, then we won’t see or hear them. We close the door to possibility. We put them in a box and now only see the characteristics that make the person less than an A.

“We choose to go to the moon”

Consider this: The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) was indeed less powerful than your cell phone in your pocket today. In fact, the AGC had about the same compute power as an Apple II (boasting 4KB of RAM).

Along with that, the spacesuits were hand-sewn using fabric materials that are found in bras.

Packing the chutes was so complicated that there were only three people certified in the whole country that could do it. As a result, NASA forbade them from all three riding in a car together to avoid an accident.

The restraints of the time were real. The list of challenges was endless. And yet…

While it is easy to focus on everything that is wrong with the world today, you can’t ignore the fact that when people come together and care enough about something amazing things happen.


Quid est veritas?

For thousands of years, it was believed that the earth was the center of the universe.

Until Copernicus and a few others came along and smashed that belief by scientifically proving that the earth revolved around the sun.

So, what do you do as a scientist during this time? Because everything in the scientific community had been built upon this axiom that the earth was in the center.

Do you accept the facts and suspend belief or do you deny the facts and accept belief? Knowing full well, that if you are going to adopt this new string of thinking that you might have to start over about what you know.

The problem with facts and belief isn’t that they contradict each other. It is that we have a difficult time changing our minds. At the same time, we don’t easily hold onto this tension of two ideas that are contradicting each other.

Why? Because our culture pushes us to pick one. Because we are hard-wired for closure.

There is an alternative, that is for the pursuit of truth.

Truth as in what is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. That there are things we know that cannot be proven. That facts and beliefs can grow with an increase in knowledge.

Facts and beliefs are a human invention. Both are fallible. Denying gravity doesn’t change the fact it does exist. It is the law. But saying that it’s definitive closes the door to possibility. Because it was a fact that humans can’t fly (because of biology and gravity) and then we figured out a way to invent the airplane.

Truth falls into its own category. And we have yet to discover and answer the primary, interesting questions. Questions like Why? Why am I here? What’s this for?

Here are the facts, these are my beliefs…what is the truth?

Dissecting decision making

Decision making is “the cognitive process resulting in the selection of a belief or a course of action among several alternative possibilities. Every decision-making process produces a final choice, which may or may not prompt action.”

Here are 13 things to consider about your decision making:

Opportunity costs – when you make a choice you are ignoring the other potential alternatives. Another way to say this is, “If you say yes to this what are you saying no to?” If you contribute to your 401K today rather than spending the extra money to buy a boat (weekend trips to Lake Powell), that is an opportunity cost.

Sunk costs fallacy – is simply a cost that has been incurred and cannot be recovered. Going to college to become a CPA, and then later finding out you hate being a CPA, do you stick it out because you already invested tens of thousands of dollars or do you pivot? Saying goodbye to the hours of studying and dollars spent on the wrong degree is a sunk cost you can’t recover.

Loss aversion – losing something hurts more than gaining something. If you were to lose $5 it hurts way more than the joys of finding $5. 

Post decision dissonance – People on the racetrack feel much more confident about their horse to be victorious after they have placed a bet. Why? Because human beings are obsessed with appearing consistent. Once we make a decision, 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.

Confirmation bias – we don’t look at data and change our minds. No, we cherry-pick information to confirm a story we already tell ourselves.

Cultivation theory – the effects of long-term exposure to living in a fantasy world (television, the internet, video games, social media…), you will begin to align reality with what is portrayed in that fantasy world. So, if you spend a bunch of time watching Law & Order, you will begin to believe that New York City is more dangerous than it actually is.

Poverty – Poverty is a psychological problem (and a system error), not an issue of character. 

Choice Architects – people that influence the choices and outcomes of others. Particularly, in a positive way, where people are left better off no matter what they decide. Asking a two-year-old what they want for a snack, “Do you want a marshmallow or carrot?”—They will almost always choose the marshmallow. Instead, present a choice between an apple or carrot and the two-year-old is left better off no matter what they choose.

Memes – how an idea or behavior spreads from one person to the next. Planking, Gangnam Style, the ice bucket challenge are examples of internet memes. But it can explain why a few parents choose not to vaccinate their children.

The Big Sort – Why are there so many Type A personalities on Wallstreet? Because Type A personalities are sorting themselves in and Type B personalities are sorting out. As Bill Bishop has pointed out, Americans have become more ideologically polarized as they seek to live with like-minded individuals. How do you stand out from a crowd where everyone is the same? Act and sound a little bit more radical than the person next to you. Creating echo chambers. People like us do stuff like this.

The Werther effect – A phenomenon where a publicized suicide triggers more suicides. Another way to think about this is that many people think about jay-walking but will often choose to wait for the light to change. Except, when we see someone else do it we have now gained the permission to follow-through what we have already been thinking about doing.

The Dunning-Kruger effect – people tend to overestimate their abilities while underestimating the challenge. “I need to get to this meeting in 10 minutes. The office is 12 minutes away. I can make it.”

The infinite game – there are two types of games. Finite games are played with rules, boundaries, winners and losers. Soccer is a finite game. Racing someone to get on a freeway a finite game. The other type is an infinite game. You don’t play the infinite game to win. No, you play the game to keep playing. Someone doesn’t have to lose in order for you to win.

Responsibility of admins

What should be censored?

It is right to censor a video on how to make a pipe bomb?

Of course, it is. For good reason.

There are things we don’t want in our culture because it can jeopardize the safety of the people around us.

It’s clear, there are things we accept, things we don’t and others that we are not sure about.

We can all agree that writing 7,500 words on whether Boeing MAX is spelled with lowercase or uppercase letters on Wikipedia is a waste of time.

Someone has to make a choice on what must be censored. Often, we leave that to a designated admin.

The responsibility of admins isn’t to drive the conversation, it isn’t to get people to the same conclusion as you. No, its to make sure the conversation stays within the guardrails that have been set by the community.

Over time, the conversation evolves. The guardrails that were originally set need to be expanded. This mistake, that admins make far too often, is they believe it’s their job to tighten the rules to keep the conversation as it should.

Cannon changes. We adopt new norms, new rules and new practices.

Most admins would rather raise their status and appear to be right than to change. The best admins though? They are the ones you never hear of.