Tag Archives: performance

Second Place? Don’t Sweat It

Many times in life you might not be someone’s first choice for a job or a role. Often we may not even know it. You rarely know if someone else was offered your job before you were. You may have gotten your place in university off a wait list. It can feel demoralizing to realize that you weren’t the initial favorite for something you wanted to do or be. The good news is, with time, what was once someone’s second choice can start to feel like the inevitable and only choice. Behold: Continue reading Second Place? Don’t Sweat It

From the Archives: Competition, Collaboration, and Writing

From the ArchivesI was browsing through some of my old documents, and came across a piece I wrote in grad school about competition and collaboration in academia, and how academics practice their craft via writing. The course was on creating an academic career for yourself, in the loftiest and most philosophical of ways. The professor was someone I admired deeply; he was generous with his feedback and so smart you couldn’t help but learn from him. This particular paper caught my eye because even though I opted out of academia entirely (no fault of this course!), it presages some of the themes I still think about: Balancing individual and group success. Being authentic. Expressing yourself through writing. Continue reading From the Archives: Competition, Collaboration, and Writing

How A Revolutionary War Hero Used Modern Psychology

How ASometimes I think the formal study of behavior science is really about putting names and a framework around concepts we already intuitively understand. After all, we are all human beings experiencing attitudes, behaviors, and cognitions every single day. That doesn’t mean we know how to talk about it or fully understand the nuances that determine when something is more or less likely to happen, but your average person does have more of a sense for psychology than for, say, nuclear physics. Continue reading How A Revolutionary War Hero Used Modern Psychology

The Value of Fear

The Value of FearPeople’s natural instinct when confronted with a scary situation is to avoid it. On reflection, most of us realize the downside to running away from fear: Avoidance just intensifies the feelings of anxiety and makes it hard to focus on anything else. (Eric Barker has a nice write-up about facing your fears as a component of emotional resilience in his review of the book Resilience: The Science of Mastering LIfe’s Greatest Challenges.) Of course, avoiding something also means that thing remains undone, which can have negative consequences itself if it’s a needed medical treatment or a critical career builder. Continue reading The Value of Fear

When I Don’t Know that You Don’t Know What I Know: Hidden Profiles and Expert Information

When I Don't Know that You Don't Know What I KnowI’ve been reading Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days. One of the key Monday activities is gathering information from expert stakeholders whose perspective may influence the solution. The authors suggest encouraging these experts to provide a complete overview of their take on the problem to be solved, even urging them to “remind us about” to make sure they are comfortable covering familiar ground. The process reminded me of a line of psychological research about the “hidden profile” and how it influences group decision-making. Continue reading When I Don’t Know that You Don’t Know What I Know: Hidden Profiles and Expert Information

Being Both: The Psychology of Identity Integration

CASTLECertain identities are deeply meaningful for the time and the place in which we live. Being a woman in the 21st century United States carries expectations that were not shared by women in 17th century China and will not be by women in 24th century Argentina. And a woman in the 21st century United States may also be a scientist, police officer, or soldier; she might belong to any racial or ethnic background; she might belong to multiple different cultures; and so forth and so on. So what, you ask? Continue reading Being Both: The Psychology of Identity Integration

Procrastinating by “Pre-Crastinating”

ProcrastinatingIn college, I’d say I was a procrastinator. I’ve always worked well under a deadline, and what better way to incite that energizing pressure than waiting until shortly before an assignment is due to begin working on it?  Once I became a graduate student and then a professional, my workload became such that procrastination was no longer a viable option. The stakes were higher, and the tasks more complex. So, over time, I’ve shifted my work style to be more planful (although I still can crank out a mean last-minute job). Continue reading Procrastinating by “Pre-Crastinating”

What Airplane Pilots and Surgeons Have In Common: How Structure Enables Safety

Untitled designIn many high performance jobs, the tasks are done in as standard a manner as possible. Following a precise set of procedures accomplishes a number of things: It helps to ensure the best possible outcomes (assuming the procedures are based on evidence of what’s worked well in the past), it helps to ensure that no steps are missed, and it protects people and companies from legal repercussions if something does go wrong. I believe highly structured work also has an additional benefit: It makes it easier to spot when something is going awry and take appropriate, even creative, action. Continue reading What Airplane Pilots and Surgeons Have In Common: How Structure Enables Safety

Case Study: The Lion and The Owl Share a Manager. He’s a Cat.

Case StudyI have a few general criticisms of personality tests in the workplace, many of which stem from people’s interpretation of them as deterministic diagnoses. Too often, I think people take personality tests and use the results to defend unproductive behaviors (“it’s classic ENTJ, what can I do?”) or as a reason not to work at a professional relationship (“we’re too different”). Another issue that happens when these tests are administered in a work setting is that the results are never really discussed at all. They disappear into the ether, instead of becoming a helpful tool to guide effective collaboration. Continue reading Case Study: The Lion and The Owl Share a Manager. He’s a Cat.

On Deliberately Practicing

On Deliberately PracticingIn his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell famously claimed that it takes 10,000 hours of practice for a person to become an expert at an activity. More recently, studies have shown this is not strictly true: Practice can improve performance a lot at some activities, not so much at others. In general, it seems that the types of things most of us consider hobbies, like sports or arts, can be improved through practice. Gladwell himself has said that his 10,000 hour stat is mis-cited: While it requires about that much practice to become great at an activity, one must also have some predilection or talent to begin with. That’s bad news for my basketball career. Continue reading On Deliberately Practicing