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Weekly 3: Revealing motivations

Summary: Dig for key drivers. Look outside your group. Recognize others for their efforts. (~6 min re

Idea Journal Weekly 3

November 17 · Issue #113 · View online
We combine 3 ideas to help you think differently and be more creative.

Summary: Dig for key drivers. Look outside your group. Recognize others for their efforts. (~6 min read)

#1. Extroversion and introversion can influence character
Author Robert Greene writes in his book The Laws of Human Nature that when you’re assessing a person’s character, it can help to determine whether they are an extrovert or an introvert.
That’s because “introverts and extroverts do not naturally understand each other,” and can interpret the same thing in totally different ways.
You might notice both extroverted and introverted tendencies in other people or even yourself, but as Greene points out, in general most of us trend in one direction or the other.
Here are some characteristics of each type: 
Extroverts are mostly governed by external criteria, and the question that dominates them is: What do others think of me?
They tend to like what other people like, and the groups they belong to generally determine the opinions they hold. Extroverts can be open to new ideas and suggestions, but only if they are popular in the culture or are asserted by some authority they respect.
As Greene puts it, extroverts value external things: good clothes, great meals, enjoyment shared with others. They’re often in search for “novel sensations and have a nose for trends.”
If an extrovert is bold, they love physical adventure. If they’re not so bold, they love creature comforts.
Introverts are exhausted by too much outward activity, and prefer to conserve their energy, spending time alone or with one or two close friends. They like to keep a part of their life separate from others, and have secrets.
Whereas extroverts are fascinated by facts and statistics for their own sake, introverts are more interested in their own feelings and opinions. They love to theorize and come up with their own ideas: “Their opinions do not come from what others think or from any authority but from their inner criteria, or at least they like to think so.”
An introvert’s boldness will be expressed by the novel ideas they come up with and their creativity.
Greene suggests that once you understand you are dealing with someone of the other type, “you must reassess their character and not foist your own preferences on them.”
#2. Group membership can distort your view of reality
In his book The Art of Thinking Clearly, author Rolf Dobelli asks: “Does identifying with a group – a sports team, an ethnicity, a company, a state – represent flawed thinking?”
To explore that question, Dobelli writes that it helps to acknowledge our evolutionary past. Over hundreds of thousands of years, evolution has shaped all of our behavior patterns, including our attraction to certain groups. 
For our ancestors, group membership was vital – individuals were no match for collectives. Those who rejected membership or were expelled “forfeited their place not only in the group, but also in the gene pool.”
But what was once a survival strategy now has a tendency to distort your view of the facts. Psychologists have studied some of the negative effects of group dynamics, and have categorized them under the term “in-group out-group bias.” 
Here are a few findings from that research:
Groups are often based on “minor, even trivial criteria”
For example, with sports teams this is often based on where you were born. In business, it’s where you work.
In one experiment, psychologist Henri Tajfel tested this tendency by splitting strangers into several groups, using a coin toss to decide who went to which group.
Tajfel told the members of one group that they were together because they all liked a particular kind of art, none of which was true. Even though the members of this group were strangers selected at random, and none of them was an art connoisseur, they found each other more agreeable than members of the other groups.
“Out-group homogeneity bias”
We tend to see people outside our own group as more similar than they actually are. This is, in part, what leads to prejudices and stereotypes. 
As Dobelli points out: “Have you ever noticed that, in science-fiction movies, only the humans have different cultures and the aliens do not?”
#3. Recognition is the “master motivator”
In his book on mental toughness, former professional tennis player and sales coach Steve Siebold writes that the most important motivator for all performers is recognition – even though many people won’t admit it.
As Siebold puts it, human beings are emotional creatures who may be embarrassed that their thinking isn’t entirely logical. This leads to many people believing that logic has more credibility than emotion. 
But that’s not true for world-class performers – they openly acknowledge the importance of recognition. 
Recognition is the master motivator because it gives us validation, and reminds us that we really are competent and smart enough to face our challenges.
As Siebold puts it, most of us are walking around with an inferiority complex of one sort of another from years of “negative programming” by coaches, parents, teachers, or other “amateurs” who have influenced us. Recognition is one way to help overcome that programming – it can serve as “a mental massage for a bruised psyche.” 
The best performers embrace this fact with themselves and those they work with, while amateurs struggle to become more logical.
Siebold recommends making an effort to recognize the important people in your life for their efforts. Words of recognition are treasured and long-remembered: “Developing this habit may do more to solidify and grow your key relationships than anything else.”
Quote of the Week
“At every action, no matter by whom preferred, make it a practice to ask yourself, ‘What is his object in doing this?’ But begin with yourself; put this question to yourself first of all.“
- Attributed to philosopher Marcus Aurelius and cited in media theorist Neil Postman’s book Building a Bridge to the Eighteenth Century
Idea Journal
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