What money cannot buy

July 27, 2010

If the economic downturn has clouded your mind with worry, then our new sister site, What Money Cannot Buy, is for you.  Over the past few weeks, What Money Cannot Buy users, a positive, resourceful group of individuals, have submitted dozens of simple pleasures and priceless moments that make them happy and don’t cost a dime.  So ignore the gloomy news forecasters and get your bliss on for free.

Here’s a sample of 44 entries that were recently submitted to the site:

  1. Realizing you were smiling the entire time you were talking to someone, right after you hang up the phone.
  2. The warm coziness of my own bed after I return home from a long business trip.
  3. Playing Rock-Paper-Scissors to settle a decision with one of your friends.
  4. When a wild animal is tame enough to eat food right out of your hand.
  5. Crying on my sister’s shoulder.  Without the help of my family and close friends, I would be lost in a world of emotion, stress, and confusion.
  6. Picking and eating fresh fruit right off the tree.
  7. The joy of watching a baby smile.
  8. The proud look on my 4-year-old son’s face when he learns a new skill.
  9. The bittersweet emotions that rush through your body on the very last day of high school.
  10. Time with the love of my life.  Last May, my husband of 27 years was diagnosed with cancer and given 3 to 6 months to live.  We prayed, cried, loved, and laughed.  Now, 11 months later, we are still savoring every smile, kiss, and breath.  We know these moments will end sooner rather than later, but we are so grateful for the time we do have together.
  11. The rush you get when you’re driving on the open road and your favorite song randomly plays on the radio.
  12. The comforting sound of my father’s car pulling into the driveway when he finally returns from a long business trip.
  13. When my baby girl looked up at me and said, “Daddy!” for the very first time.
  14. Seeing two elderly folks who are madly in love.  It’s a sight of love that has surpassed the tests of time.
  15. Kissing in the rain.
  16. The feeling of cool morning grass under your bare feet when you walk out to get the newspaper at sunrise.
  17. Beginner’s eyes.  You’ll never see it again for the very first time.
  18. The sound and sight of ocean waves.
  19. The feeling you get inside when you go out of your way to make someone’s day a little brighter.  Doing something nice and unexpected for somebody else doesn’t always require money, and often the gesture has more meaning when it doesn’t.
  20. A good photograph of a special moment.  It transforms the moment into a tangible keepsake and helps make the memory of that moment last a lifetime.
  21. A rainbow breaking through the storm clouds on a calm, rainy summer afternoon.
  22. The exhilarating rush of adolescent love.  Those magical moments of adolescent lust and affection that only you and one other person rightly remember.
  23. The little kicks and pokes I feel daily as I enter the last month of my first pregnancy.  It’s truly remarkable!
  24. Sharing a good laugh with friends and family.  Some of the most memorable moments in my life have been moments spent in laughter.
  25. The excitement of swinging on a swing as high as you possibly can.
  26. The simple fact that I can read the sincerity in her eyes when she says, “I love you.”
  27. The awesomeness of skipping rocks across water.  It doesn’t matter how old I get, this one never gets old.
  28. The tears of joy that flow when you see your beloved for the first time after a 10 month deployment to Iraq.  All the months of struggle and loneliness are washed away the second he gets off that plane.
  29. The soothing comfort of an old familiar smell.  Earlier today pulled into my parent’s driveway after being away for over a year.  I could smell familiarity in the air – the scent of the pine tree in the neighbor’s yard.  And as I headed through the front door, more familiar smells consumed my senses.  Gosh, it feels good to be home.
  30. The keen wisdom my grandfather has acquired slowly over the course of 86 years, and the amazing stories and life lessons he shares with me every time I visit him.
  31. A first kiss.  The sweet rush of butterflies in your tummy when you kiss someone special for the very first time.
  32. When you look into the eyes of your best friend and know, without a doubt, that you can trust her.  You can see it in her eyes and you can feel it in your heart.  She has no ulterior motive.
  33. The first sight of daffodils poking through the snow after a long, hard winter.
  34. The realization of true love.  The warm feeling you get many years after your first kiss when you realize you married the right person.
  35. The surreal beauty of watching lightning strike in the distance.
  36. An unexpected compliment.  It seemed like just another dreary Monday morning, but when she walked into my office and said, “I love your shirt! That color looks great on you,” it brightened the rest of my day.
  37. A peaceful, romantic picnic with your significant other on a warm sunny day.
  38. The joy of telling an interesting true story.  One of the most enticing roles we lead in life is that of a storyteller.  There are few things more satisfying than telling a true story that others enjoy listening to.
  39. The feeling of self-confidence is unquestionably priceless. It cannot be purchased with money, but it can buy you more opportunities and take you farther than any amount of money ever could.
  40. The excitement of a white Christmas.
  41. A pillow fight with two of your best friends.
  42. When my cat snuggles up on my chest while I’m laying on my back.  He’s so warm and fuzzy and cute.
  43. Grilled steak and potatoes home-cooked for me by my husband on a lazy Friday night after I’ve had a long week.  Nothing beats sitting at home in my pajamas and eating my favorite food, made by the man I love, with the man I love.
  44. When the song on the radio ends right as you pull into the driveway.

If you enjoyed these simple pleasures and priceless moments, be sure to check What Money Cannot Buy every day for a quick, fresh dose of positive content.

Credits:

http://www.marcandangel.com/

 

Content from Sternberg, R. (1994). In search of the human mind. New York: Harcourt Brace.

1. Lack of motivation. A talent is irrelevant if a person is not motivated to use it. Motivation may be external (for example, social approval) or internal (satisfaction from a job well-done, for instance). External sources tend to be transient, while internal sources tend to produce more consistent performance.

2. Lack of impulse control. Habitual impulsiveness gets in the way of optimal performance. Some people do not bring their full intellectual resources to bear on a problem but go with the first solution that pops into their heads.

3. Lack of perseverance and perseveration. Some people give up too easily, while others are unable to stop even when the quest will clearly be fruitless.

4. Using the wrong abilities. People may not be using the right abilities for the tasks in which they are engaged.

5. Inability to translate thought into action. Some people seem buried in thought. They have good ideas but rarely seem able to do anything about them.

6. Lack of product orientation. Some people seem more concerned about the process than the result of activity.

7. Inability to complete tasks. For some people nothing ever draws to a close. Perhaps it’s fear of what they would do next or fear of becoming hopelessly enmeshed in detail.

8. Failure to initiate. Still others are unwilling or unable to initiate a project. It may be indecision or fear of commitment.

9. Fear of failure. People may not reach peak performance because they avoid the really important challenges in life.

10. Procrastination. Some people are unable to act without pressure. They may also look for little things to do in order to put off the big ones.

11. Misattribution of blame. Some people always blame themselves for even the slightest mishap. Some always blame others.

12. Excessive self-pity. Some people spend more time feeling sorry for themselves than expending the effort necessary to overcome the problem.

13. Excessive dependency. Some people expect others to do for them what they ought to be doing themselves.

14. Wallowing in personal difficulties. Some people let their personal difficulties interfere grossly with their work. During the course of life, one can expect some real joys and some real sorrows. Maintaining a proper perspective is often difficult.

15. Distractibility and lack of concentration. Even some very intelligent people have very short attention spans.

16. Spreading oneself too think or too thick. Undertaking too many activities may result in none being completed on time. Undertaking too few can also result in missed opportunities and reduced levels of accomplishment.

17. Inability to delay gratification. Some people reward themselves and are rewarded by others for finishing small tasks, while avoiding bigger tasks that would earn them larger rewards.

18. Inability to see the forest for the trees. Some people become obsessed with details and are either unwilling or unable to see or deal with the larger picture in the projects they undertake.

19. Lack of balance between critical, analytical thinking and creative, synthetic thinking. It is important for people to learn what kind of thinking is expected of them in each situation.

20. Too little or too much self-confidence. Lack of self-confidence can gnaw away at a person’s ability to get things done and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Conversely, individuals with too much self-confidence may not know when to admit they are wrong or in need of self-improvement.

The Misconception: You prefer the things we own over the things we don’t because we made rational choices when we bought them.

The Truth: You prefer the things you own because you rationalize your past choices to protect your sense of self.

The Internet changed the way people argue.

Check any comment system, forum or message board and you will find fanboys going at it, debating why their chosen product is better than the other guy’s.

In modern consumer cultures like America, people compete for status through comparing their taste in products. (You can read more on how that works here: Selling Out).

Mac vs. PC, PS3 vs. XBox 360, iPhone vs. Android – it goes on and on.

Usually, these arguments are between men, because men will defend their ego no matter how slight the insult. These are also usually about geeky things that cost lots of money, because these battles take place on the Internet where tech-savvy people get rowdy, and the more expensive a purchase, the greater the loyalty to it.

Fanboyism isn’t anything new, it’s just a component of branding, which is something marketers and advertisers have known about since Quaker Oats created a friendly logo to go on their burlap sacks.

There was, of course, no friendly Quaker family making the oats back in 1877. The company wanted people to associate the trustworthiness and honesty of Quakers with their product. It worked.

This was one of, if not the first, such attempt to create brand loyalty – that nebulous emotional connection people have with certain companies which turns them into defenders and advocates for corporations who don’t give a shit.

In experiments where people were given Coke and Pepsi in unmarked cups and then hooked up to a brain scanner, the device clearly showed a certain number of them preferred Pepsi while tasting it.

When those people were told they where drinking Pepsi, a fraction of them, the ones who had enjoyed Coke all their lives, did something unexpected. The scanner showed their brains scrambling the pleasure signals, dampening them. They then told the experimenter afterward they had preferred Coke in the taste tests.

They lied, but in their subjective experiences of the situation, they didn’t. They really did feel like they preferred Coke after it was all over, and they altered their memories to match their emotions.

They had been branded somewhere in the past and were loyal to Coke. Even if they actually enjoyed Pepsi more, huge mental constructs prevented them from admitting it, even to themselves.

Add this sort of loyalty to something expensive, or a hobby which demands a large investment of time and money, and you get a fanboy. They defend their favorite stuff and ridicule the competition, ignoring facts if they contradict their emotional connection.

So, what creates this emotional connection to stuff and the companies who make doo-dads?

Marketers and advertising agencies call the opposite of fanboys hostages.

Hostages have no choice but to buy certain products, like toilet paper and gasoline. Since they can’t choose to own or not to own the product, they are far less likely to care if one version of toilet paper is better than another, or one gas station’s fuel is made by Shell or Chevron.

On the other hand, if the product is unnecessary, like an iPad, there is a great chance the customer will become a fanboy because they had to choose to spend a big chunk of money on it. It’s the choosing one thing over another which leads to narratives about why you did it.

If you have to rationalize why you bought a luxury item, you will probably find ways to see how it fits in with your self-image.

Branding builds on this by giving you the option to create the person you think you are through choosing to align yourself with the mystique of certain products.

Apple advertising, for instance, doesn’t mention how good their computers are. Instead, they give you examples of the sort of people who purchase those computers. The idea is to encourage you to say, “Yeah, I’m not some stuffy, conservative nerd. I have taste and talent and took art classes in college.”

Are Apple computers better than Microsoft-based computers? Is one better than the other when looked at empirically, based on data and analysis and testing and objective comparisons?

It doesn’t matter.

Those considerations come after a person has begun to see themselves as the sort of person who would own one. If you see yourself as the kind of person who owns Apple computers, or who drives hybrids, or who smokes Camels, you’ve been branded.

Once a person is branded, they will defend their brand by finding flaws in the alternative choice and pointing out benefits in their own.

There are a number of cognitive biases which converge to create this behavior.

The Endowment Effect pops up when you feel like the things you own are superior to the things you do not.

Psychologists demonstrate this by asking a group of people how much they think a water bottle is worth. The group will agree to an amount around $5, and then someone in the group will be given the bottle for free.

Then, after an hour, they ask the person how much they would be willing to sell the bottle back to the experimenter for. They usually ask for more money, like $8.

Ownership adds special emotional value to things, even if those things were free.

Another bias is the Sunk Cost Fallacy. This is when you’ve spent money on something you don’t want to own or don’t want to do and can’t get it back.

For instance, you might pay too much for some takeout food that really sucks, but you eat it anyway, or you sit through a movie even after you realize it’s terrible.

Sunk Cost can creep up on you too. Maybe you’ve been a subscriber to something for a long time and you realize it costs too much, but you don’t end your subscription because of all the money you’ve invested in the service so far.

Is Blockbuster better than Netflix, or Tivo better than a generic DVR? If you’ve spent a lot of money on subscription fees, you might be unwilling to switch to alternatives because you feel invested in the brand.

These biases feed into the big daddy of behaviors which is most responsible for branding, fanboyism and Internet arguments about why the thing you own is better than the thing the other guy owns – Choice Supportive Bias.

Choice Supportive Bias is a big part of being a person, it pops up all the time when you buy things.

It works like this: You have several options, like say for a new television. Before you make a choice you tend to compare and contrast all the different qualities of all the televisions on the market.

Which is better, Samsung or Sony, plasma or lcd, 1080p or 1080i – ugh, so many variables!

You eventually settle on one option, and after you make your decision you then look back and rationalize your actions by believing your television was the best of all the televisions you could have picked.

In retail, this is a well-understood phenomenon, and to prevent Buyer’s Remorse they try not to overwhelm you with choice. Studies show if you have only a handful of options at the point of purchase, you will be less likely to fret about your decision afterward.

It’s purely emotional, the moment you pick. People with brain damage to their emotional centers who have been rendered into Spock-like beings of pure logic find it impossible to decide between things as simple as which cereal to buy. They stand transfixed in the aisle, contemplating every element of their potential decision – the calories, the shapes, the net weight – everything. They can’t pick because they have no emotional connection to anything, no emotional motivations.

To combat postdecisional dissonance, the feeling you have committed to one option when the other option may have been better, you make yourself feel justified in what you selected to lower the anxiety brought on by questioning yourself.

All of this forms a giant neurological cluster of associations, emotions, details of self-image and biases around the things you own.

This is why all over the Internet there are people in word fights over video games and sports teams, cell phones and TV shows.

The Internet provides a fertile breeding ground for this sort of behavior to flourish.

So, the next time you reach for the mouse and get ready to launch and angry litany of reasons why your favorite – thing – is better than the other person’s, hesitate.

Realize you have your irrational reasons, and so do they, and nothing will be gained by your proselytizing.

100% credits to : http://youarenotsosmart.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/fanboyism-and-brand-loyalty/

Everyone whom I seem to talk to these days, says, the glorious days of IT are over. Looking at this statement from a different perspective, makes me feel that, this is not true somehow. The days of easy money are definitely over. But as the global marketplaces and industries move towards automation of their daily tasks, the demand for IT will sustain. IT looks like a field which is mature in itself, but its not at the level where it should be. We come across clumsily designed systems all around. The reason is, the limited budgets IT department gets to work with. This makes me think, about what kind of jobs would have a very good demand a couple of years from now!
The kind of jobs that merge business with IT and make the business understand the value of IT. An individual who has strong business skills as well as technology, could be invaluable to an organization.
He could be described as a technical BA, but the title doesn’t do justice. He could be more accurately described as a software evangelist( in simple words an Internal sales guy), who can sell the product to the business and set expectations with them. This is a very niche space, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we see a lot more demand in this space.

Our minds set up many traps for us. Unless we’re aware of them, these traps can seriously hinder our ability to think rationally, leading us to bad reasoning and making stupid decisions. Features of our minds that are meant to help us may, eventually, get us into trouble.

Here are the most harmful of these traps and how to avoid each one of them.

1. The Anchoring Trap: Over-Relying on First Thoughts

“Is the population of Turkey greater than 35 million? What’s your best estimate?” Researchers asked this question to a group of people, and the estimates were seldom too far off 35 million. The same question was posed to a second group, but this time using 100 million as the starting point. Although both figures were arbitrary, the estimates from the ‘100 million’ group were, without fail, concomitantly higher than those in the ‘35 million’ group. (for the curious, here’s the answer.)

Lesson: Your starting point can heavily bias your thinking: initial impressions, ideas, estimates or data “anchor” subsequent thoughts.

This trap is particularly dangerous as it’s deliberately used in many occasions, such as by experienced salesmen, who will show you a higher-priced item first, “anchoring” that price in your mind, for example.

What can you do about it?

  • Always view a problem from different perspectives. Avoid being stuck with a single starting point. Work on your problem statement before going down a solution path.
  • Think on your own before consulting others. Get as much data as possible and explore some conclusions by yourself before getting influenced by other people’s anchors.
  • Seek information from a wide variety of sources. Get many opinions and broaden your frame of reference. Avoid being limited to a single point of view.

2. The Status Quo Trap: Keeping on Keeping On

In one experiment a group of people were randomly given one of two gifts — half received a decorated mug, the other half a large Swiss chocolate bar. They were then told that they could effortlessly exchange one gift for the other. Logic tells us that about half of people would not get the gift they prefered and would hence exchange it, but in fact only 10% did!

We tend to repeat established behaviors, unless we are given the right incentives to entice us to change them. The status quo automatically has an advantage over every other alternative.

What can you do about it?

  • Consider the status quo as just another alternative. Don’t get caught in the ‘current vs. others’ mindset. Ask yourself if you would choose your current situation if it weren’t the status quo.
  • Know your objectives. Be explicit about them and evaluate objectively if the current state of affairs serves them well.
  • Avoid exaggerating switching costs. They frequently are not as bad as we tend to assume.

3. The Sunk Cost Trap: Protecting Earlier Choices

You pre-ordered a non-refundable ticket to a basketball game. On the night of the game, you’re tired and there’s a blizzard raging outside. You regret the fact that you bought the ticket because, frankly, you would prefer to stay at home, light up your fireplace and comfortably watch the game on TV. What would you do?

It may be hard to admit, but staying at home is the best choice here. The money for the ticket is already gone regardless of the alternative you choose: it’s a sunk cost, and it shouldn’t influence your decision.

(This example is from an earlier article which focuses entirely on the sunk cost effect. Check it out if you want to know more.)

What can you do about it?

  • Be OK with making mistakes. Examine why admitting to earlier mistakes distresses you. Nobody is immune to errors, so you shouldn’t make a big deal out of it — just make sure you learn from them!
  • Listen to people who were not involved in the earlier decisions. Find people who are not emotionally committed to past decisions and ask their opinion.
  • Focus on your goals. We make decisions in order to reach goals. Don’t become attached to the particular series of steps you took towards that goal; always consider how you can better fulfill that goal from now on.

4. The Confirmation Trap: Seeing What You Want to See

You feel the stock market will be going down and that now may be a good time to sell your stock. Just to be reassured of your hunch, you call a friend that has just sold all her stock to find out her reasons.

Congratulations, you have just fallen into the Confirmation Trap: looking for information that will most likely support your initial point of view — while conveniently avoiding information that challenges it.

This confirmation bias affects not only where you go to collect evidence, but also how you interpret the data: we are much less critical of arguments that support our initial ideas and much more resistant to arguments against them.

No matter how neutral we think we are when first tackling a decision, our brains always decide — intuitively — on an alternative right away, making us subject to this trap virtually at all times.

What can you do about it?

  • Expose yourself to conflicting information. Examine all evidence with equal rigor. Don’t be soft on disconfirmatory evidence. Know what you are about: Searching for alternatives or looking for reassurance!
  • Get a devil’s advocate. Find someone you respect to argue against the decision you’re contemplating making. If you can’t find one, build the counterarguments yourself. Always consider the other positions with an open mind (taking into account the other mind traps we are discussing here, by the way).
  • Don’t ask leading questions. When asking for advice, make neutral questions to avoid people merely confirming your biases. “What should I do with my stocks?” works better than “Should I sell my stocks today?”

5. The Incomplete Information Trap: Review Your Assumptions

Harry is an introverted guy. We know that he is either a librarian or a salesman. Which one do you think he most probably is?

Of course, we may be tempted to think he’s almost certainly a librarian. Haven’t we been conditioned to think of salesmen as having outgoing, if not pushy, personalities? Too bad this reasoning may be dead wrong (or at least incomplete).

This conclusion neglects the fact that salesmen outnumber librarians about 100 to 1. Before you even consider Harry’s character traits, you should have assigned only a 1% chance that he’s a librarian. (That means that even if all librarians are introverted, all it takes is 1% of introverts among the salesmen to make the chances higher for Harry being a salesman.)

That’s just one example of how overlooking a simple data element can make our intuitions go completely astray. We keep mental images — simplifications of reality — that make we jump to conclusions before questioning assumptions or checking whether we have enough information.

What can you do about it?

  • Make your assumptions explicit. Don’t take a problem statement as it is. Keep in mind that for every problem you’re using implicit information — your assumptions. It’s usually not hard to check the validity of assumptions, but first you need to know what they are.
  • Always favor hard data over mental simplifications. Our preconceptions — such as stereotypes — can be useful in many situations, but we should always be careful to not over-rely on them. When given the choice, always prefer hard data.

6. The Conformity Trap: Everybody Else Is Doing It

In a series of experiments, researchers asked students in a classroom a series of very simple questions and, sure enough, most of them got the answers right. In another group, they asked the same questions but this time there were actors posing as students, purposefully pushing wrong answers. This time around, many more students provided wrong answers based on the leads from the researchers’ assistants.

This “herd instinct” exists — to different degrees — in all of us. Even if we hate to admit it, other people’s actions do heavily influence ours. We fear looking dumb: failing along with many people is frequently not considered a big deal, but when we fail alone we must take all the heat ourselves. There’s always peer pressure to adopt the behaviors of the groups we’re in.

This tendency to conform is notoriously exploited in advertising. Businesses often sell us products not based on their features, but by showing how popular they are: since others are buying it in droves, why would we not join them?

Conformity is also one of the main reasons why once a book makes into a well-known best-sellers list, it tends to “lock in” and continue there for a long time. People like to consume what “everybody else” is consuming.

What can you do about it?

  • Discount the influence of others. When analyzing information, shield yourself from others’ opinions — at least at first. This is the best way to decide without being subconsciously swayed by popular opinions.
  • Beware “social proof”. Always raise a flag when someone tries to convince you arguing primarily on the popularity of a choice, instead of on its merit.
  • Be courageous. Be willing to overcome obstacles and defend your viewpoints, despite their unpopularity. Don’t be afraid to point out that the Emperor wears no clothes.

7. The Illusion of Control Trap: Shooting in the Dark

Have you noticed that the vast majority of lotto players pick their own numbers instead of using the sometimes available ‘auto-pick’ option (where the point of sales terminal chooses the numbers for you)? We all know that however the numbers are chosen doesn’t change the chance of winning, so why the strong preference for picking our own numbers?

Curiously, even in situations we clearly can’t control, we still tend to irrationally believe that we can somehow influence results. We just love to feel in control.

Of course, it’s always easier to illustrate this trap with chance games, but the tendency to overestimate our personal control of events influences every aspect of our daily lives.

Unfortunately, contrary to the lottery example above, the outcomes of our decisions are usually complex and interconnected. It’s hard to assess to what extent we’re responsible for the results we get. While some of the outcomes can be traced back to our own choices, a part of them will surely remain just as well out of our direct control.

What can you do about it?

  • Understand that randomness is part and parcel of life. Although it may be hard to fathom or even admit it, some things are just random — in the sense that they don’t depend on your effort at all. Accept responsibility for the things you can influence, but know that for many others there is not much you can do. Better than assuming or expecting that every event is under your control is to consciously choose how you respond to them.
  • Beware of superstitions. Consider how much of your decisions are based on things you cannot really explain. Make those unknowns explicit and put them under scrutiny — instead of pretending you can control them.

8. The Coincidence Trap: We Suck at Probabilities

John Riley is a legend. He won a one-in-a-million-chance lottery… twice! That makes it a1-in-a-trillion event — which means that the lottery is rigged or maybe John must have been singled out by Lady Luck, right?

Well, not really. Let’s try a little math: If, throughout the years, 1000 lottery winners keep playing at least 100 times attempting the “miracle” of winning it once more, that adds up to a non-negligible chance of 10%that someone will make it.

This means that the “miracle” is not only possible but — given enough attempts — its likelihood increases to a point of becoming almost inevitable.

Another classic example: it takes a group of just 23 people to make it more likely than not that two of them share the same birthday (day and month).

That’s how unintuitive probabilities are.

What can you do about it?

  • Don’t over-rely on gut estimates. While useful many times, gut estimates will sometimes be way off the mark. Make sure you properly discount their importance or that you understand the ramifications of trusting them.
  • Beware of “after the fact” probabilities. One thing is the probability of someonehaving won the lottery twice — looking at it in retrospect. Another completely different thing is that a particular person — chosen before the outcome — wins it: that would indeed qualify as a one-in-a-trillion event — and would make anyone seriously doubt the legitimacy of that lottery.

9. The Recall Trap: Not All Memories Are Created Equal

What’s your best guess for the probability of a randomly selected flight ending in a fatal crash? While many people grossly overestimate it, MIT studies show that in reality these fatal accidents happen at a rate of only 1 in 10,000,000.

The fact that people suck at estimating probabilities explains only partially this tendency to mis-estimate: if you ask the same question right after a major airplane accident, be prepared for even more biased assessments.

What happens is we analyze information based on experience, on what we can remember from it. Because of that, we’re overly influenced by events that stand out from others, such as those with highly dramatic impact or very recent ones. The more “special” an event is, the greater the potential to distort our thinking. Of course, no one ever bothers about the other 9,999,999 planes that arrive safely at their destinations — so there’s nothing more natural than forgetting about them.

What can you do about it?

  • Get hard data. As usual, don’t rely on your memory if you don’t have to. Use it, of course, but always endeavor to find data that confirms or discounts your recollection as soon as possible.
  • Be aware of your emotions. When analyzing information, try to emotionally isolate yourself from it, at least temporarily. If you’re analyzing an event, pretend it happened a long time ago or that it happened to someone else unrelated to you. Likewise, if asking for opinions, find people who are not emotionally involved with them or their consequences.
  • Beware the media. The media is notorious for exaggerating the importance of certain events while conveniently neglecting others. Always evaluate information on its relevance and accuracy, and not on how much exposure it gets.

10. The Superiority Trap: The Average is Above Average

A study surveyed drivers asking them to compare their driving skills to other people in the experiment. Almost all the participants (93%!) rated themselves as ‘above average’.

With few exceptions, people have much inflated views of themselves. They overestimate their skills and capabilities, leading to many errors in judgment.

And this is the reason I decided to close this article with this particular thinking trap. After making ourselves aware of these many thinking traps, we may now become susceptible to falling into a new one: the belief that we’re now immune to them.

Of course, the first step to avoid thinking traps is awareness and constant vigilance, but beware: it’s much, much easier to notice others falling into these traps than us.

What can you do about it?

  • Be humble. Always remember that everyone has blind spots (yes, that includes me and you)!
  • Surround yourself with honest people. If we all have blind spots, nothing better than having honest people around us to point them out to us.
  • Don’t go overboard. These ‘thinking traps’ are inherent parts of us: they make us human. Applying rigor and rational thinking to our decisions is important, but that doesn’t mean that intuition has completely lost its place. Don’t get me wrong: I still think that knowing about our own thinking traps is very useful — just don’t get too worked up about them.

Credits  : http://www.litemind.com/thinking-traps/

There are two kinds of skills that define employees: the hard skills and the soft skills. The hard skills are the technical skills you learn at school such as programming, software engineering, software reliability, operating systems. The soft skills refer to everything else you’ll need to know about working in an organization. Both sets of skills are always important but early your career the hands on technical skills are a little more dominant. As your career advances the soft skills become more important. Senior people are always expected to be leaders, and to play a strategic role in the team, and those expectations set a higher emphasis on soft skills. Both hard and soft skills are needed at every level of your career but the balance changes over time.

Hard and soft skills

During the first 5 years of a career the challenge is typically on developing soft skills, because the nature of our work during that time forces technical skills upon us. After 10 years in the business the converse is true. Soft skills are thrust upon us by virtue of the situations we are put in and the roles we play, and most people
find that staying current in their technical skills remains the hardest challenge. Wherever you find yourself in the path of your career, you will get a head start by sensitizing yourself to the need to develop yourself in both dimensions and finding time to make that happen. Most people develop skills “on the job”, which means they wait for the job circumstances to present a need for them to grow in some aspect of their skill set (soft or hard) and develop the skills at that time. That’s the default strategy that most people use, and it’s a poor one.
First because when you need a skill it’s already too late to start learning it. Second, because one of the great secrets of career success is to develop skills and perform beyond your expected job level. A characteristic of the best technical and business leaders is that they make time for skills growth on a regular basis including
skills outside their immediate business need.

One thing I observed when dealing with different personalities is that people don’t like to be pushed around out of their comfort zone a lot. In the human brain, the neurons get wired to particular habits. For eg. Going to the gym everyday, Eating breakfast at a particular time, Sleeping in on the weekends. Since these things become hardwired. Science says you need 21 days to form a new neural connection and hence a habit.

Another aspect is , for a new habit to form, space has to  be made for that habit in the person’s life. For example , going to the gym at one particular time of the day , or cooking everyday at a particular time. If you can have a time scheduled to do something everyday at the same time, slowly it tends to creep into your lifestyle and it becomes a part of you.

Facilitation is one more thing that  is very important. It means that the excuses we give ourselves to talk ourself out of forming a habit. Like before starting to make a to-do list , “Oh, It’s a lot of work” or before going to the gym , “Oh! , I don’t have the right clothes for it”. At this stage it becomes very important to make sure to get over that barrier and make that the first priority. Engineers specially tend to think that life runs like 1’s and 0’s , It’s either all in or nothing. So If I don’t have the right clothes, if the gym is not close, I would not go there, and this revolves in circles when you try to get someone out of that spiral ending.

Blindly follow these steps ,most of you will just this and move on . WAIT, If you want a habit to be formed. ACT now

1) Make a list of things you want to do

2) Prioritize

3) Remove obstacles and barriers preventing you from completing your task

4) Schedule a fixed time to execute for 20 days

5)  Don’t talk yourself out of it, when you feel like that , STOP!

6) Just do it , at the end of it , will be fruitful

7)Refer back to a printout of list and make tally marks the days you end up following what you desired

8) At the end of it , reward yourself with something you like. A small thing such a perfume or a shirt works.