Four cognitive biases you want to have

A lot is written about cognitive biases you want to avoid – e.g. the tendency to seek out information that confirms our hypotheses, but there are four other cognitive biases that are commonly displayed by successful people. These are biases that you want to have, but they come with risks as well. So the mind-trick required from those that would be really successful is to maintain the bias whilst being sufficiently self aware to avoid the risk.

  1. Personal exceptionalism – a macro-sense that you are at the top of your cohort and that your work is snowflake-special
    – Benefit: resiliance, stamina, charisma
    – Risk: assuming that being top of your cohort means you need to be great at everything, brittleness
  2. Dichotomous thinking – being highly judgemental of people and situations, viewing the world as black and white with little grey in the middle – everything is great or sh*t
    – Benefit: achieves excellence quickly
    – Risk: perfectionism
  3. Correct over generalisation – makes judgements from limited data and is right most of the time
    – Benefit: speed
    – Risk: addiction to instinct and indifference to data
  4. Sees creative destruction as natural
    – Benefit: fearlessness, tolerance for destruction and pain
    – Risk: heartlessness, alienation

I think this is a great list for anybody who aspires to success to look at, both to assess whether they share characteristics with other successful people and to see if they are falling on the wrong side of any of the risks. I know that I have.

This list is culled from a presentation title Five Cognitive Distortions of People Who Get Stuff Done. Hat tip to @scott_sage for tweeting the link.