Human beings have a strong need for fairness. Big or small, when we see something unfair done (especially against us), we are enraged. Even a three-year-old has the common sense to scream when they get a smaller portion than their sibling. Not just humans, even monkeys have a sense of fairness.
When George Washington fell ill in 1799, his physicians bled him relentlessly, dosed him with mercury to cause diarrhoea, induced vomiting, and raised blood-filled blisters by applying hot cups to his skin. A physician in Aristotle’s Athens, or Nero’s Rome, or medieval Paris, or Elizabethan London would have nodded in agreement at much of that hideous regimen.
Even though it’s safe to assume that the field of medicine is the epitome of scientific method, ironically, it wasn’t always so. In fact it was the opposite. It was a field marred with arrogance, hubris, and a sheer lack of scientific rigour. Most importantly, what medicine lacked was doubt. Doubt is not a fearful thing and, as we’ll soon learn, it’s in fact what propels science forward.
If you pursue an opportunity that everyone agrees is attractive, you’ll have a difficult time distancing yourself from an army of competitors—be it a business or an investment. But if you pursue an opportunity that conventional wisdom ignores (or, even better, disdains), you will have the time you need to refine your idea into a well-oiled machine.
The greatest discoveries are made after a lot of failures. India got her independence after failing for over a 100 years. Ray Kroc struggled to get his footing until he was in his 50s before hitting it off with McDonald’s. Even Edison was suggesting towards this idea when he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” The sheer number suggests that the human experience comprises of more information about what doesn’t work than what works.
We often focus on a problem by using information that is close at hand. We make predictions based on our narrow and unique set of inputs. The more closely we know about a problem, the more intuitively we come to conclusions. The more detailed a plan we make, the more confident we become. In other words, we develop an inside view.
When your brain perceives a threat, you experience a massive biochemical and physiological change. Your bloodstream is flooded by adrenaline and cortisol. Your heart rate, respiration rate and blood pressure increases. Your immune and digestive functioning gets suppressed. Your pupils are dilated thereby shifting you into a vigilant and battle-ready state. You body prepares itself for the action to come.
Simply knowing the name of something doesn’t mean you understand it. In order to talk to each other, we have to have words, but we often talk in fact-deficient, obfuscating generalities to cover up our lack of understanding.
What makes an employee focus on politics than on innovation? What’s that tipping point in a company, and how can we avoid that? And what has traffic jams got to do with it?