We who get the gift of a spouse learn something, or don't, which is that it's better to be happy than right.
But, our desire to know, to be certain, and to let others see evidence of our possession of correct, precise, and disproportionately advantageous information is a powerful, primal instinct. Which makes being wrong, and understanding how often we're dead wrong, humbling.
Here's a "101" piece on nameable biases that can and tend to cloud our thinking, analysis, and decision-making, from Strategy + Business contributors by Heidi Grant Halvorson and David Rock. They write:
On the whole, biases are helpful and adaptive. They enable people to make quick, efficient judgments and decisions with minimal cognitive effort. But they can also blind a person to new information, or inhibit someone from considering valuable options when making an important decision.
When we are so inhibited, we may put people or resources at risk. In a capital intensive business like residential development and construction, this can lead to a quick endgame. Note that the blindness may be to favorable conditions as well as to inimical ones. Obeying our urge to be right, and blinded by these biases, we may be on a painful path to learning. This is the point Motley Fool commentator Morgan Housel's "Silver Linings Play Book-"style litany of "ten topics to feel great about" in the U.S. economy right now.
Tops among them, demographics. Housel writes:
From now through 2050, America's population is forecast to rise by 50 million. China's will fall by 101 million. Russia's will decline by 10.3 million. Germany, down by 7.7 million. Italy, down 1.1 million. Finland, down 155,000. Greece, 600,000.
The other nine bright spots--ranging from jobs, to household balance sheets, to educational attainment trends, to health- and longevity-related issues--are equally compelling, particularly for those of us who ply a trade in housing and community development.
The moral of the tale: ignoring what's going right can be as hazardous to business health and well-being as working in denial of red flag warnings.
The thing about biases, too, is that they can make us forget common sense and do the opposite of what we know to be true. When it comes to courting young adults--Millennials--this may easily be the case, writes The Economist in "Myths About Millennials," because we're so preoccupied with the ways that they're different.
The Economist focuses on a particular "myth," that this age group is all about collaboration and causes, and can not be counted on to behave as competitive, mission- and success-focused individuals. Hogwash. The article notes:
Jennifer Deal of the Centre for Creative Leadership, an executive-training outfit, and Alec Levenson of the University of Southern California studied 25,000 people in 22 countries and concluded that most generalisations about millennials as employees are “inconsistent at best and destructive at worst.”
There go our biases, clouding perfectly sensible ancestral knowledge, and subbing in management consulting mumbo-jumbo in a way that can send our businesses to hell in a hand-basket.
So, in a dog-days of August week that can typically boast its share of headline risk--this one will sport data releases on everything from Personal Income Outlays, to Construction Spending, to the all-important Employment report--understand that that risk splits two ways.
So, this week, let's focus on the little things that we can do to improve the place, recognizing that, amidst all of our biases, sometimes it's better to be happy than right;