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Don’t Let Your Brain Destroy Your Blog Business

This guest post is by Steve of thecodeofextraordinarychange.com.

The U.S. General Accounting Office has estimated that purchases of equipment by the military that feature new technology are delivered on time and on budget just 1% of the time.1

The worldwide scientific community has agreed unanimously that human activity on planet Earth is responsible for climate change, yet more than half of the people in the U.S. remain incredulous.

In 1964, the front page of The New York Times declared the detection of the afterglow of the big bang, finally settling the question of how the universe came to be.  Or so you’d think.  Even thirty years later, proponents of the “steady state” theory—the idea that the universe has always been around and didn’t start with a big bang—still believed in iterated versions of the steady state theory rather than the big bang.2

In the UK, half of the population believes in heaven, but only a quarter believes in hell.

The common thread that links each of these facts is this:

People reject evidence where it doesn’t support what they already believe to be true.

Your brain, the painter

Your brain is pretty clever.  It doesn’t know everything and it knows that it doesn’t know everything, so it’s become incredibly efficient at painting a picture of yourself and the world that’s based on limited, incomplete and inaccurate data.

It does this without you even knowing what it’s up to, presenting your conscious mind with a complete picture of “how things are” and “who you are” that’s been composited together from different visual cues, memories, and emotions, then Photoshopped to add sunshine and a lens flare.

This mechanism helps you select, filter and even create evidence to support your own beliefs.  It also inflates your own competence and feeds the belief that you’re in control and “right.”

Social psychologists call this motivated reasoning, and recent research using FMRI brain scans shows that when you make a logical, objective assessment of what’s in front of you, it is in fact anything but logical and objective.

When attempting to objectively process data that’s emotionally relevant (such as starting a business, creating a service or marketing yourself), your limbic system lights up and your brain automatically weaves in the things you want, dream, admire, crave, and desire.

When information enters your brain that favours those things you mark it with an A. “Looking good,” you say, patting yourself on the back.

And when information enters your brain that doesn’t favour the way you want to see yourself and the world, you mark it down to a D-.  “I’m not going to listen to that nonsense,” you say, congratulating yourself for being smart enough not to be duped.

Your choices are not so much based on fact and logic as they are centred on who think you are and what you really want.

Who’s calling the shots?

This automatic deception is normally one step ahead of you, having you do things you wouldn’t do if you knew the real cost.

It’s an in-built defence mechanism that purges the uncomfortable, painful or contradictory information that threatens your core beliefs, even if those same beliefs aren’t serving you well (such as a belief that you’re not good enough, not up to scratch or less than others, for example).

It can have you making a decision about your business based on your desire to fit in.

It can have you wasting your energy on something that your brain tells you will get you lifestyle you think you want, even if you don’t really want it.

It can have you investing time and money in a new project to gain the validation your brain craves.

Letting your brain automatically call the shots is what might ultimately kill your business.

The antidotes

Luckily, there are two antidotes to the unconscious biases created by motivated reasoning.

1. Rampant curiosity

It’s hard for assumptions about yourself and your business to remain unchallenged when you’re asking the right questions.

Ask questions about what’s fun, resonant, playful, daring, meaningful, silly, and important, and be willing to explore your own undiscovered country.

2. Deliberate awareness

Asking questions can open doors that give you valuable insights, but you can only step through those doors and hear those insights when you foster a deliberate awareness and ‘fess up to what you find.

So, notice.

Notice how you’re feeling when you’re making choices.  Notice the thoughts in your head related to your circumstances, business offering, and value.  Notice the thoughts you have about how you feel about what you’re doing.

Motivated reasoning will always have you dancing to the same ol’ tune; well-worn steps that hide the truth, constrain your growth, and ultimately limit your business.

So don’t let your brain make decisions on your behalf that you wouldn’t make while keenly awake and aware.

Wake up to it. Rampant curiosity.  Deliberate awareness. That’s where your success lies in 2013 and beyond.

References

1. Ross Buehler, Dale Griffin and Michael Ross, “Inside the Planning Fallacy: The Causes and Consequences of Optimistic Time Predictions”, in “Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgement”, Cambridge University Press, 2002. Cambridge Books Online. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511808098.016

2. George Smoot and Keay Davidson, Wrinkles in Time: Witness to the Birth of the Universe (Haper Perennial, 2007) 79-86.

Steve is a confidence coach who helps you find your natural confidence so that you can put your dent in the universe – which basically means doing what really matters to you in ways that work for you.  He also likes smiling, and likes this picture of a happy horse.  See more of Steve on Twitter and Facebook.

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Comments

  1. Mike says:

    You see, Descartes had it wrong and St. Augustine had it right. Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am,” whereas several years before Augustine said, “I err, therefore I am.” People who resign to let their brains do the “painting” without any input from outside themselves are immature. They are afraid of falling on their rears when it’s a necessity. 90-95% of the stuff I learned was from tripping over myself (and that may be a conservative estimate).

  2. Ari Martino says:

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  3. Ameet Kaur says:

    This post is very helpful for thanks for sharing with us.

  4. David says:

    Really interesting. Pay attention and actually think about what you are doing instead of just doing stuff is my interpretation.

    I think it’s a bit like when you are driving along and suddently realise that you have passed the turning you wanted because you are on autopilot to your office and actually today is Saturday and you’re supposed to be going to a cafe for lunch! Your brain is capable of driving the car without you really being conscious of it, pretty impressive; but to get where you want to go you need to consciously take control of the direction sometimes :D

    • Steve Errey says:

      Ha! Nice example. There’s a lot to be said for unconscious competence (the ability to drive a car effectively without thinking about it), but your brain can do the same thing for things you’d rather it didn’t.

      Appreciate your thoughts David.

  5. Food for Thought!

    ****

    Anybody who rejects ideas in this article is definitely suffering from the condition that Steve is talking about here.

  6. You made me think about myself:) Sometimes I think on another matter and do another at same time and get serious trouble:)

  7. Matt Brennan says:

    Excellent post. You’ve got to keep your brain going and trying to think of new ideas. Searching for ideas is one of the best ways to exercise critical thinking.

  8. Raghavendra says:

    Haha! well said sir! As a blogger, I’d suggest newbie bloggers to think and plan first before sitting in front of the computer and getting themselves saturated. I’ve been through this and still do. But yes, Having a “Deliberate Awareness” is a must for making ourself a good blogger.

  9. Jenna says:

    :)) nice post. I always get up from my computer and look subjectively to anything i might worked on.