"The Man, The Mission, The Passion" Husband, Father, Attorney, CPA, Steward Leader, Entrepreneur, MBA, Author, Builder, HBS OPM 25 Class, Mentor, Teacher

The Trap of False Certainty

confirmation bias

Many fools are certain when the wise remain doubtful. We crave certainty in a world where much is both unknown and unknowable and we refuse to accept that because it creates anxiety. In addition, much of what we think we know is not so; instead it is greatly distorted by human bias, cultural orientation, and preconceptions:

– A recent attempt to duplicate the findings of 100 psychological studies was only able to replicate 36% 

– A survey of 131 economists by Anthony Randazzo and Jonathan Haidt revealed that responses to world view questions (definition of fairness) correlated strongly with replies to economic questions (austerity v. government stimuli).

–  In my own world of real estate after forty years I’ve never experienced a 10 year period without an economic downturn of some kind and yet I’ve read hundreds of 10 year pro forma’s (projection of operating results for an investment) and none of them contained an economic downturn. Who is kidding whom? Collective, massive willing suspension of disbelief with no one willing to say (or hear?) “The Emperor has no clothes.”

– Public opinion polls are trumpeted almost daily and yet we all know that the words used (undocumented v. illegal) and phrasing of the question powerfully impacts responses. Also, the content of the preceding questions can predispose respondents’ answers (Do you see yourself as an empathetic person? Are you a good neighbor? How do you feel about x?). 

– Studies come out frequently supporting this or that and time after time it has been demonstrated that the view point of the party commissioning the study powerfully impact the outcome. A recent survey of professionals purportedly hired as expert witness in a criminal case and RANDOMLY assigned to the defense or the prosecution found significant differences in their expert findings and conclusions after examining the evidence and yes, surprise, it correlated with which side (tribe?) they were assigned. We humans bond rapidly and unrealized bias quickly enters at the subconscious level in the best of us.

Little of this reflects intentional bad faith, most of it is a symptom of our universal need for much greater self-awareness, both individually and collectively. I’ve found a healthy dose of polite skepticism goes a long way in ferreting out reality and making better decisions. That as well as a willingness to accept that not everything can be known or known with precision. Indeed, not all that can be measured matters and not all that matters can be measured.

Closing Quotes:

“All the incentives push us to over confidence…You want to be on the front page of the Wall Street Journal? Of course you do. So you make a bold claim.” – Russ Fellows, Hoover Institution fellow

“Value-free (i.e. no agenda, no political bias) economics is no more likely to exist than the frictionless world of high school physics problems.” – Milton Friedman

“I care nothing for simplicity this side of complexity, everything for simplicity the far side of complexity.” – Albert Einstein

“The fastest way out of a complex situation is often the quickest way back in.” – Principle of System Theory

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier

A Big Mistake of New Leaders


A Big Mistake of New Leaders: Showing Insecurity by Attempting to Borrow Credibility by Criticizing or Distancing themselves from Organization

It’s a fact of life that most folks get promoted to leadership roles before they are fully ready. It’s difficult to avoid, most organizations have a crying need for competent people and the challenges of giving someone a well-rounded exposure and the comprehensive training/mentoring necessary is daunting. The truth is most of us learn on the fly, on the job.

As a result many new leaders face an internal confidence deficit: they know they are not ready. That’s ok, that’s life. The BIG MISTAKE is when leaders allow their insecurities to show on the outside and thus undermine the confidence and team cohesion of those they lead. When you, as a leader, stay calm, cool and collected your team will pick up on that feeling and reflect it back to you.

One way insecurities manifest themselves is when a leader takes an “us v. them” approach: “This organization doesn’t known what it’s doing, they are disorganized etc.” with the implicit or explicit message that the speaker does know better and thus should be trusted/followed/believed. While this moan and groan, complain and criticize, pity party approach may gain the speaker a bit of short term credibility, it is incredibly dysfunctional, undermining the speaker, the organization AND the listener by role modeling a very broken and unhealthy coping mechanism. It is the polar opposite of solution oriented, personal and professional growth behavior.

Closing Quotes:

“Show courage on the outside even if you don’t always feel it on the inside. Everyone is afraid sometimes. If you are a leader, your direct reports will read your every expression. If you show a lack of courage, you will begin to damage your direct reports’ self-confidence.”
– Marshall Goldsmith, ‘What Got You Here Won’t Get You There’

“It’s important a leader always be confident, calm, and set a good example to others. The more difficult the situation, the more important it is a leader project confidence.” – Alex Langer, Effective Leadership

“True confidence will lead to greater success. Confident people help others to be confident, be it their bosses, peers, friends or customers.”
– Faith Starr, Stop Self-Sabotaging and Shift your Paradigm to Success

“Confidence energizes while fear disempowers. Self-belief strengthens while fear weakens.” – Eugene C. Onyibo

“A confident person is someone who gives to others by providing a strong presence that creates a feeling of security and safety that helps others develop confidence.” – Beau Norton, Extreme Confidence: A Comprehensive Guide for Increasing Self-Esteem and Confidence

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier

Ignorance of “The Law” is No Excuse

positive thinking zig ziglar

It has been called many things by many writers: The Law of Attraction, The Law of Cause and Effect, The Yes Factor, The Universal Law. No matter what the label, The Law remains true and I assure you it applies to you and it operates in your life. Perhaps without even realizing it, you used it yesterday, you used it today, and you will use it tomorrow. The Law has been phrased many ways:

– Like attracts Like
– What you focus on expands
– Thoughts held in mind attract in kind
– What you resist, persists
– As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he

The message is that your thoughts, your emotions, your beliefs powerfully impact your reality, both positively and negatively. Optimists succeed more often simply because the try more often, try harder, and try longer. On the negative side, few attempt what they believe will fail. 

The Law is not a trump card: think positive thoughts and you automatically succeed, life is much more complex than that! At the same time, it is vital to develop a deep understanding of how your thoughts, your internal monkey chatter, and your world view impact your energy levels and create your emotions. Once you develop this greater sense of self awareness, you will begin to operate at a higher, more effective level. As Peace Pilgrim said, “If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.” 

Closing Thoughts:

 “The ancestor of every action is a thought.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Words create. Know what you want to create before you speak.” ― Bangambiki Habyarimana, The Great Pearl of Wisdom 

“You should not think too much on things that do not work in your life, this can affect the gears of the things that work.” ― Davi Oliveira  

“I am the master of my mind. I dwell on positive thoughts.”  ― Lailah Gifty Akita, Think Great: Be Great! 

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier