The curse of knowledge

Have you ever had a teacher who was very smart, but also terrible at actual teaching? An expert who used so much jargon you could not quite follow their explanation? This is called the “curse of knowledge”, a term coined in 1989 by economists Colin Camerer, George Loewenstein, and Martin Weber. It’s a cognitive bias …

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Parkinson’s law: how constraints can create freedom

Coined by Cyril Northcote Parkinson as part of an essay published in The Economist in 1955, Parkinson’s law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” While it was initially designed as a mathematical equation describing the rate at which bureaucracies expand over time, Parkinson’s Law can …

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Turning goals into growth loops: the PARI system of mindful productivity

I had a coaching session today with a client where we discussed his daily routine and the way he was managing his goals. At some point, he said: “Maybe I’m just not disciplined enough.” Many people think this way when they’re disappointed by their own performance. But did you know that 92% of people never …

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Metacognition: how to think about thinking

When you want to learn or build something new, it’s tempting to just get going. Read as much as you can, do some tutorials, work on some related projects. Short-term, this gives you a motivation boost. You feel like you’re making progress. But, after a while, you notice that you’re not progressing as fast as …

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The Cobra Effect: how linear thinking leads to unintended consequences

Have you ever tried to fix a problem, only to make things worse? That’s called the Cobra Effect—when an attempted solution results in unintended consequences. Because most of our cause-to-effect experiences involve very simple, direct relationships, we tend to think in terms of linear chain of events. But the world is much more complex than …

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How to make better decisions with second-level thinking

It’s easy to get carried away when making a decision. We look at the current situation and extrapolate what we consider to be the most likely future outcome. What we often fail to consider, though, are the complex ramifications of the decisions we make. For example, you’re feeling hungry. The fast and easy decision would …

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The affliction of abundance: FOBO or the fear of a better option

FOMO, or fear of missing out, is a term that has become common in everyday language and has permeated most corners of our popular culture. I wrote a long article about the phenomenon and its alternative, JOMO—the joy of missing out. But the author who coined the term FOMO, Patrick J. McGinnis, recently warned people …

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The science of decision making: why smart people do dumb things

Chocolate or vanilla? Trello or Jira? Atom or VS Code? Stay in or go out? Should I click on this link or not? We make thousands of choices everyday, often automatically, using mental shortcuts we have created over years of experience. Decision making is the process we use to identify and choose alternatives, producing a …

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How to ask good questions

Without realising it, lots of the work we do relies on asking good questions: getting a helpful piece of information from a colleague, looking up the right thing, or probing a potential customer during a negotiation. The popularity of Quora is a testament to how much we as humans enjoy asking questions. Yet, we’re never …

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30 mental models to add to your thinking toolbox

Want to save this list of mental models for later? Subscribe to receive a PDF copy. Remember how I told you that you need to build your own mental gym? Well, let’s talk about your mental equipment. Mental models are some of the most powerful mental tools at your disposal. They can help you think …

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