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Cognitive Distortions of People Who Get Stuff Done (2012) [pdf] (semanticscholar.org)
386 points by bleigh0 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 151 comments



I found the slide for "Cognitive behaviour model of depression" very interesting, it's probably the best visualisation of depression taking over someones mind leading to a paralysis where simple tasks become something else and chaos emerges.

Ego does, sometimes, gets in the way of getting things done but without it we wouldn't care to launch anything new/groundbreaking. Without our Ego as creator, we would have no soul in my opinion.

Anyone who freelances, creates something alone, goes solo as a startup founder etc. needs these "cognitive distortions"/"mental disorders", I see them as necessary beliefs. The opposite would be someone who just blends into and becomes yet another functional toothed wheel without any manifestation of desires. A good portion of our society is like these, some people don't want more and are happy/contented.

We need these self beliefs/"lies" to wake up on the next day and keep moving forward. I guess this is a form of inner power/motivation without relying on our environment and/or friends. As a solo freelancer, I do "suffer" from some of these because at the end of day: this is what drives me forward.


We need all that. Still, it can be frightening.

I have "launch fear": I delay by another week every week, because I found one or more bugs the day before, which to me is unacceptable. Also it would crush my ego if people said I hadn't noticed or bothered to fix it, because it would mean I don't care about my users.

When I am launching, I want users to have the best experience possible. MVP is minimal, not bug ridden. When I find a bug, it hurts, and it is almost depressing - as in, leading to paralysis.


I feel you. I also don’t like the “if you’re not embarrassed, you haven’t released early”.

We only get one chance at a first impression and it’s very important that we get it right. If we do, then that user is delighted and will mostly likely recommend it to someone else.

That’s why I really like “minimal delightful product” rather than “minimal viable product”.

But “minimal delightful product needs to solve the users job”. This means even if it’s slightly buggy but you manage to solve a painful problem, the user still is delighted with a smile.

So many products I see that are the work of long months of building but don’t solve the users problem.

The process I find works best is a strong canary program. “You don’t spend more than a week without iterating by showing something to a customer and collecting/observing feedback”

The first version is ugly and only meant for a few users, as more holes are fixed, it’s exposed to more and more users until you hit the gold pot and find new users are actually “getting delighted”. That’s when you’d go full GA on a feature with a limited scope that “gets the users job done in a way that delights them”


Wow - this.

I didn't quite realize that this was a thing.

I share the same tendency and it may have as much to do with something else: the 'epoch' moment which implies change, i.e. a 'decision' or outcome which could be bad.

'Development' is a grind, but at least you're alive. After launch it may go well, but you could get wiped out - I think people may fear this.

Also, launch brings so much chaos, unclarity ... in 'development' you're in charge of what's going on. After launch, your users and investors definitely own your time.


I think we all share the same concern. I am told to lauch by everybody (even here) but I can't until I have at least fixed the MVP to fit my minimal standards.

It is hard to explain but you've nailed it. In development, you are alive and can fix things. I do not want things to go wrong for my users.

By myself, I have a lot of leeway. There are many things I can tolerate, and I often strive for "good enough"

But I can't do that with future users involved, even if they don't exist yet. Because they will trust me to deliver a good product, and I want to be worthy of their trust.


To add my two cents: I guess that people do not fear getting wiped out as in being killed because the product was bad.

When launching, the dreams / expectations that fueled the development will get "reality-checked". The initial dream comes from the heart, so when the launch fails, people fear that their core identity is being attacked. You could call that the negative side (from a personal pov) of external validation.


  "If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late." - Reid Hoffman


A piece of advice I heard once - if you’re not embarrassed by your first release, you waited too long.

Just do it.


Same here.

The way I try to overcome it is by thinking that there are things that I don't control. I could create an app in XYZ stack and in the months some packages are broken and unmaintained.

Just realise that if it's hard for you, it's also hard for others. If you fight for it, eventually things will work. I had many failures in the past due to arrogance, not playing along, over confidence, etc. In the end, you've to analyse the situation, learn from it and just keep going forward.

The more you fail, the better you'll become at handling it. You were born on this plant knowing nothing and you failed a lot of times, more than you can count, until you become you. Each day you're a little bit better than yesterday.


>> When I am launching, I want users to have the best experience possible.

Just add to that: The best experience possible right now.

If your imperfect product is compared to your non-existent product, which will your potential users want?


We had a thread a couple weeks ago "What interesting thought did you read on HN but couldn't find later?" - I'm wondering if anyone can help me rediscover this Wikipedia article.

It was a theory on the cognitive bias of depression/anxiety, applied to the locus/worldview of someone, wherein a person interprets with a smaller outlook on the future i.e. the opposite of "looking at the bigger picture".

I've found many anecdotal parallels in people I know, but am absolutely teething to find this article.


In addition to spullara's Beck link, the "construal level theory" seemed to ring true to what you were describing:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Construal_level_theory


I recently heard that the same brain regions are involved in processing temporal and spatial distances.


In my own anecdotal experience, this appears quite reasonable; oftentimes, especially in childhood, stretches of time as short as 1 week into the future would "feel" (i.e. encompass the same emotions/sensations) as knowing how far away my relatives in Canada were from me. The perception of time seriously befuddled my brain for years -- no matter that it still does to this day!

If you happen to recall the outlets you read this at, I would be interested in learning more. Hopefully the article would have links to papers as well... perhaps including fMRI scans? Truly fascinating stuff.


> especially in childhood

Think of time spans as "percentage of life lived so far", and a lot of that particular time stretching suddenly makes sense.


Sure, but if science (especially neuroscience) were that simple then we'd have all the answers already. I'm more interested in quantifiable/demonstrable knowledge of this topic beyond a mere thought experiment.


would make sense: space, environment, reality, decision, hope .. not unrelated IMO



Incoming thread hijack:

I wish I had seen that thread! I've been looking for an article I'm pretty sure I found on HN. It was an idea of the development of consciousness from the basis of developing models for action planning. It starts with purely reactive, non-planned actions as the low rung. Then development of models of physical self and environment, allowing planned actions. Then adding social modeling, eventually yielding a model of self that allows for self reflection and consciousness.

Or, at least, that's what I think I remember. Can't find the article for the life of me...



> Anyone who freelances, creates something alone, goes solo as a startup founder etc. needs these "cognitive distortions"/"mental disorders", I see them as necessary beliefs. The opposite would be someone who just blends into and becomes yet another functional toothed wheel without any manifestation of desires. A good portion of our society is like these, some people don't want more and are happy/contented.

I don't think those two things are dichotomous. (Is this dichotomous thinking being displayed right there?) One can very well be motivated by what they're doing but still understand and accept that they're fundamentally not very different from any other human being, and that they can look at the evidence, listen to others' ideas, and admit their mistakes, without jeopardizing their pursuit.

Sure, if somebody has excellent ability in performing correct inferences and a healthy dose of self belief as he knows what he's doing and knows he has indeed accumulated more than many others trying the same thing, those can indeed be positive personality traits. However if one goes as far as really "distorting" the reality/self perception, or look down upon others, I don't think it can end well at all. I would hypothesize that some founders succeeded despite being jerks, but most jerks are not successful founders, and most successful founders aren't jerks.


My 2 cents on this:

Being a jerk can work sometimes.

Take the fictional character Gavin Belson from the show Silicon Valley as an example: He's not what we would call a Leader but he has this egocentric selfish view of himself. He shares no emphatic towards people around him, which means that he can virtually do anything without caring too much. You might say he is an asshole (he is) but he will carry his vision on no matter what.

Is this guy healthy? He represents someone that no one likes. Every single employee hates hims, his ideas are terrible, he will run over people without blinking, etc.

In sports look at Cristiano Ronaldo, you can find early interviews when he was younger and didn't had any awards. If you asking who is the best football player in the world he would instantly reply: Me Some years later he actually become one of the best all time football players. You might say he has an unhealthy amount of self confidence which can be seen as arrogance. From a young age he carried this belief system/mindset that brought it several awards and broke record after record. He is completely obsessed with training that at age 33, his body has a metabolic age of 23! About 6 years ago I saw an article saying that, according to his physical therapist, he would play at a world class until age 36 and, so far, it is happening.

We can question if Ronaldo has a healthy dose of self belief. He gets things done on the pitch and we might ask at what cost? He could work a LOT less and be a decent player with millions on his bank account. No need to push his limits every single.

The same happens with developers: If you believe in open source you'll be willing to use and write open source tools despite the fact that there are closed source solutions. We could argue that this is not healthy because you're wasting your time when you could get things done in a much shorter amount of time.

Same with CEO: They all believe their product is the best and sometimes (I work with several) they seems nuts and as a developer I've to be their therapist sometimes so that their product doesn't looses touch with reality and becomes something wild that no one understands.

In the examples above it's very subjective to quantify/measure what an healthy dose of self belief looks like. You could say that they are all nuts and you would have a point:

Gavin Belson believes he is the next Steve Jobs. Ronaldo believes he is the best no matter what. Open source developers believe that closed source code is evil. CEOs believe they're the next Steve Jobs or some cliche like changing the world for better

If we kill the Ego/"Cognitive Distortions"/"Mental Disorders", there is nothing extraordinary about these people.

Having a belief, regardless of being true of false, will have the effect of you acting upon it.

Can you make 10 million dollars? Answer 1: No Answer 2: yes

If you answer No, I'm 99.9% sure you won't because you won't even try. If your answer is Yes, you'll try and you might succeeded at it. You won't might suffering along the journey to make it.

I find it very hard to classify what is a mental disorder or a personality trait. It can go both ways: wonderful or terrible.

It's a very subjective topic, to classify this as a "Cognitive Distortions" (in a negative way) is like saying that creative people and leaders should be placed in a mental institution or something like that. Some traits like kindness, empathy, helping the poor, etc. are nice things that we should nourish in our society but they might get in the way of creating value/getting things done. The idea might be scary but a psychopath doesn't gets dragged/delayed like "normal"/empathetic people. They try to get what they want without caring about the cost.


Yes, I think there are at least five. So this is a list of at least five, but not the five I think.

Several of them feel like variations of the same theme: I know I'm right, so I can disregard evidence|opinion|counter-argument because .. an axiom of the system is I know I'm right.

If I had a sixth, it would be the tendency to latch onto a mantra. "think different" doesn't really mean very much, but boy, successful people who get stuff done like to say it.

(I'm not a person who gets stuff done btw. the mantra my get-stuff-done colleagues say which feels apposite is: "do the shit work first" which kind of makes sense: they don't procrastinate about things they'd rather not do)

Another one: seventh might be they believe implicitly they are the smartest person in the room


>seventh might be they believe implicitly they are the smartest person in the room

As a person with contrarian tendencies who has occasionally been accused of "implicitly believing" I'm the smartest guy in the room, I think it's important to recognize there's a difference between trusting your own reasoning and thinking you're smarter than everybody else. You can mostly avoid the latter by learning strategies that help you estimate the confidence level you should have in your beliefs. A couple of "am I wrong?" mnemonics I've learned to apply include:

- What kind of evidence are my ideas based on? Is it observation, hearsay, case studies, or something more substantial?

- How many silly/unrealistic counterexamples can I think of? Often these will contain hints of a more complicated, realistic objection.

- (if you have time to use the Web) Are there any professional researchers whose conclusion resembles my argument? What can I learn from/about them?

- Am I at risk of wishful thinking, availability/selection bias, or defending a position I previously implicitly committed to? If so, try to apply the same reasoning to a similar situation where the fallacy won't apply.


Yes, I listen for words like "clearly" or "obviously" or "unquestionably" and invert them to test the mental water.

But I think you missed that the leaders in this space, get so few contradictory signals that apart from hired geniuses, and they can always fall back on "I have higher social smarts" -these aside, I think they get positive confirmation bias.

I often believe I'm the smartest person in the room right up until I open my mouth...


Love these. Another thing I find useful is asking myself “what evidence would make me change my mind?”


What if you believe you are the smartest person in the room because you are the only one that questions their own ideas?

What then?!


Why are you even in the room dumb-ass!!


..meta, and just enough so I am not totally sure I got the joke, or that it even was a joke.

There was also a serious side to my question though, that we all have flaws in our reasoning, even in the reasoning we use to question our reasoning. Using heuristics to judge, just never turns out right all the time.


A piece of advice often given to people is "don't be the smartest person in your team", because then you don't have anyone to learn from.

I think that advice is wrong, because:

1) there are many different skills you can improve and you are probably not the most skilled one in the team in all of them

2) even if you are the most skilled, it doesn't mean you can't learn from less skilled people

3) 'smartest' is a strange criterion, because if there is one thing you can't learn, it's becoming more intelligent

However, if you truly believe there isn't much you can learn in your current work any more, possibly because of the skill levels of your teammates, switching to a different job is probably a good idea.


It might not be that they believe they are the smartest person in the room. It might be that all the cognitive distortions, particularly the 7th one that you bring up, might be precisely because they are, generally speaking, the smartest person in the room.

And it might be because they are, in fact, the smartest sort of people, that they get the most done.

We are of course, only sampling smart people who get stuff done. Smart people who do not get things done tend to be astoundingly good at being unproductive.


> Several of them feel like variations of the same theme: I know I'm right, so I can disregard evidence|opinion|counter-argument because .. an axiom of the system is I know I'm right.

This if taken to the extreme is just narcissism and can wreck havoc. My father very frequently just gets possessed with insisting how only his interpretation or memory of the events is correct and ignores all sorts of even the most basic evidence, to the extent of absolutely distorting the reality. Not hard to imagine what sort of chaos and pain it has created in the family. Maybe sometimes this helps in running a business but if one takes it to personal interactions it can be simply ruining.

Also I do believe that the best leaders aren't the ones who insist on being a jerk but are instead those who can objectively evaluate evidence, genuinely listen to others and immediately acknowledge their own folly when their previous beliefs are wrong. Such traits can only be a plus, while distortive stubbornness is only negative and is a trait found in many depressed people as well.

> (I'm not a person who gets stuff done btw. the mantra my get-stuff-done colleagues say which feels apposite is: "do the shit work first" which kind of makes sense: they don't procrastinate about things they'd rather not do)

Sound advice.

> Another one: seventh might be they believe implicitly they are the smartest person in the room

How is this very different from the "personal exceptionalism" thing? Aren't they exactly the same? (The only difference might be that the original author insisted upon "macro-exceptionalism" but I doubt people can easily draw such a line in their self perception).


> "...it would be the tendency to latch onto a mantra. "think different" doesn't really mean very much, but boy, successful people who get stuff done like to say it."

True. But reading you say it now makes it sound less like GTD and more like they do the right (different) things. Things that yield results; which makes the lead up look important. Kinda the tasks are a symptom more than a means, if that makes sense.


I guess "think different" to them means "take risks" or "run counter to the stream on things" or "see threats as opportunities" or something.

IBM had just "think" and I really liked that. The trouble is, it leads to endless ratiocination.


Does that make Nike IBM's polar opposite, slogan-wise?


There is probably a game buried here, to find two company slogans which contradict each other.


Not really a contradiction, but I immediately thought of the following juxtaposition:

U.S. Army: "An Army of One"

U.S. Marine Corps: "For Our Nation, For Us All"


How about:

"Think better. Do best."

Too often, for reasons too many to list here, we humans tend to pounce without stepping outside our confirmation bias and asking:

- Is this the right thing to do?

- And the best way to do it?

We too easily presume the status quo to be our friend, when it's often the enemy.

Fwiw, I think the 5 Whys are a great tool. More critical thinking than traditional GTD. But what good is GTD if the T's are wrong?

I put this together, for fun:

http://5xy.co/


> "think different" doesn't really mean very much

Well, you don't create something new if you don't think different in some way. The "different" part is really generic, but that's the point, it people could say something specific here, it wouldn't be different.


By what measure do the people studied ‘get stuff done’? By virtue of being a founder? Is this an attempt to shed light on productivity or a backhanded way to compliment the Silicon Valley crowd? Generally you get things done by being dedicated and having the ability to deliver, rather than having a distorted vision of reality.


How do you maintain dedication and commitment to deliver? It's not just about knowledge or skills, as many idle geniuses can tell you.

Depression is correlated with realistic perception of realist. Non-Depression (optimism, productivity) is correlated with mild delusion.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201206...


By having excellent social support structures, many resources, above average ability and domain knowledge, a sense of purpose in your work and being free of mental health issues.


Regarding your last point, these actually all sound like symptoms of hypomania.


Really? How?


- Personal Exceptionalism

The grandiosity associated with mania is a superset of this. (As mentioned elsewhere, the reverse is not necessarily the case.)

- Dichotomous Thinking

Pretty much exactly as described in the slides.

- Overgeneralization

Albeit without the "Correct" part, as often as not, nevertheless leading to some very interesting discoveries.

- Blank Canvas thinking

To an extreme degree, rebuilding ones personality and self image at least once a year.

- Schumpteranism

See previous point. This was mostly internal destruction and rebuilding, but often manifested itself in staying awake for days rearranging furniture, breaking down or building in walls etc.

Source: runs in the family.


Haha, I misunderstood. I thought you were saying that these things are signs of hypomania: "having excellent social support structures, many resources, above average ability and domain knowledge, a sense of purpose in your work "


All the people I know who are extremely productive (moms of 7, doctors, athletes) share exactly zero of that SV narcissist list. This is really low-quality content with a nonsensical title.


None of the doctors or athletes you are thinking of believe in personal exceptionalism? That’s a pretty classic characteristic of doctors and athletes.


Is the actual talk available? It seems like it would be interesting, but this is mostly bullet points on slides; hard to glean any real information or know what the author intends.



Hypothesis: the "people who get stuff done" are a subset of a larger group with the same personality and talents, but without as much luck. Those other people are known by unprintable names, because they have no great successes to make people ignore the fact that they're jerks.


People are endlessly fascinated with the piece of success that we might have some hope of exercising control over. It gives people something constructive to try to work on. This is generally better than hating your life and buying lottery tickets while not bothering to work towards anything.

There are a great many things beyond our control. But we will never stop trying to figure out that one thing we can do by choice that makes some kind of difference -- the more difference, the better.


> People are endlessly fascinated with the piece of success that we might have some hope of exercising control over. It gives people something constructive to try to work on. This is generally better than hating your life and buying lottery tickets while not bothering to work towards anything.

Except there's a lot more going on here and a lot more at stake. Beliefs about the world, specifically beliefs about, long story short, why bad things happen to good people, can dramatically affect policy decisions and what a given culture considers acceptable. Someone feeling good about themselves is absolutely not a good enough reason to mangle reality. And that seems to be all that this whole mess is about. You want to believe you are in control of your life so you bury everyone else with you when that's absolutely not what we need right now to actually understand why things happen.

Rejection of the influence of randomness means we do not examine or account for said randomness. It means we think safety nets are worthless. It means we vote against free healthcare. It means we leave people to fend for themselves because we convince ourselves that it logically makes sense. If people control everything and if their determination is all they need, then we do not need to help them.

For a large slew of events that can randomly hit a person, there is often a very non-random source. But we are so focused on an individual-based rhetoric that we cannot admit that sometimes people affect others and that is a much bigger lever to pull than trying to convince every individual person to be some sort of a superhero who has no problems.


> Except there's a lot more going on here and a lot more at stake. Beliefs about [...] why bad things happen to good people, can dramatically affect policy decisions and what a given culture considers acceptable. Someone feeling good about themselves is absolutely not a good enough reason to mangle reality.

nodnodnod

> Rejection of the influence of randomness means [...] people control everything and if their determination is all they need, then we do not need to help them.

Well, it is complicated and gets very subtle. For every person who is struck by catastrophe through sheer bad luck, there is at least one who is struck by catastrophe after a series of terrible personal choices.

Deciding which is which is not an easy choice. For example, imagine a bush-walker standing at the bottom of a cliff - a rock falls, and kills them. Looks a lot like bad luck. However, in the Australian mining industry, workers are essentially forbidden from standing near cliffs because that sort of thing is /actually quite likely/. Because they deal with the risk all the time, they see it as a choice to made.

Not mangling reality cuts two ways. Just because a choice isn't obvious doesn't mean that decisions don't play a role. In addition we can't attribute success solely to luck. Success strikes randomly in a small pool of people who have the capacity to be successful. That pool is small, and the people in it shouldn't be made responsible for the vagaries of the universe at large.


> Well, it is complicated and gets very subtle. For every person who is struck by catastrophe through sheer bad luck, there is at least one who is struck by catastrophe after a series of terrible personal choices.

This one will get complicated since it's effectively a discussion on free will. :) I will say that trying to examine why people do what one could call stupid or terrible choices is an interesting exercise.

Consider, for instance, the act of smoking in a smoking-dominated country. I have grown up in such a country and I did not pick up smoking because I considered it bad. But I am also a significant outlier for other reasons (let's say I didn't have a lot of friends growing up). From a 3rd party perspective, especially one originated in a country that doesn't smoke a lot, picking up smoking seems like a very terrible idea, and it seems very straightforward to judge those people.

But consider it from the dynamics of the country: what does it mean to be a smoker, what does it mean to be a non-smoker, in such a country? Are there consequences to each? Why do most people end up smoking? What would they have to give up to not do it? Is a decision of an outlier like myself relevant/useful? What is the breaking point after which a culture switches from an activity being mainstream vs not?

If we say smoking is a terrible choice, we'd be forced to conclude that people in countries that smoke a lot must be worse people in some sense than people in countries that do not smoke a lot. A similar conclusion was once made by Milgram. But I think by now we realize that these conclusions are definitely not the right ones, so we need some other explanation.

> For example, imagine a bush-walker standing at the bottom of a cliff - a rock falls, and kills them. Looks a lot like bad luck. However, in the Australian mining industry, workers are essentially forbidden from standing near cliffs because that sort of thing is /actually quite likely/.

This, for example, doesn't sound like a choice from the perspective of the walker or worker, because they don't have the information. So on that level it looks to me to still be random. It's like choosing a career when you don't know anything about the market or what makes a good career - it's basically random from your perspective, even if there are deterministic paths all around. After all, most physical luck (i.e., accidentally tripping) is also deterministic internally, but it's luck to us because we can't tell.

It is not random for the whoever manages the Australian mining industry, because they have the information. One way to reduce randomness is having more information, which can be extended to educating people more.


Your remarks in no way fit with anything I am trying to communicate.


You're communicating that there are just two dichotomies: either one believes luck is real and so should just do nothing and buy lottery tickets, or one believes it's not real and is doing things that are useful.

Otherwise, I'm not sure what you were aiming at with the lottery ticket example, given that it's pretty much nobody's choice even if they believe in luck.


I spent nearly 6 years homeless. There are an awful lot of people who are homeless whose plan seems to be "buy lottery tickets" and otherwise do little or nothing to improve their situation because it seems hopeless. They feel they need a "big win" and anything less won't matter.

I worked hard at solving my problems and eventually got myself off the street.

There are lots of people who seem to apply that same general mentality to life. We know that diet and lifestyle are huge factors in health outcomes, but many people don't really take that seriously. The connection between eating right and better health isn't immediate and obvious enough.

I write about issues like homelessness and I generally look at both pieces of the equation -- what the individual can do for themselves in spite of society not being helpful enough and what society needs to do differently.

I see zero reason to assume that encouraging individuals to not engage in learned helplessness should be an excuse for society to not offer a social safety net or work on improving the one that exists.


That's cool I guess, but I neither buy lottery tickets nor believe diet/lifestyle are irrelevant, yet I'm a big believer in the importance of luck and the importance of believing in the importance of luck (hehe), so where does that leave me in your dichotomy?

There's more room here than learned helplessness, in fact, I think that doesn't derive from the "luck is important" mindset at all. See my post here since I'd just be repeating the same thing: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17535786


so where does that leave me in your dichotomy?

1. I wasn't talking about you in specific.

2. It's a relatively brief forum comment. It's not reasonable to assume it needs to cover all possible use cases as if it were, say, a scholarly paper.

3. It's entirely possible to engage someone in discussion and say "Ah, well, that sounds like a dichotomy that I don't fit." or something like that without being attacking or dismissive of the basic point the person was trying to make.

4. I don't like talking to people who come across as hell bent on shooting down everything I say rather than trying to understand my point. So I think I'm probably done replying to you in this thread.


> I don't like talking to people who come across as hell bent on shooting down everything I say rather than trying to understand my point. So I think I'm probably done replying to you in this thread.

I am just going to note that you're doing a very similar thing with statements like these:

> I see zero reason to assume that encouraging individuals to not engage in learned helplessness should be an excuse for society to not offer a social safety net or work on improving the one that exists.

So you may not be getting the results you're expecting because you're generating strawmen in your posts to which naturally the other poster is going to be inclined to reply in the somewhat less understanding manner.

It's not always easy to keep these discussions fully level and polite, and I absolutely fail in that all the time, but, like, pot, kettle.


I frequently have nice exchanges on HN. This just doesn't happen to be one of them.


cool... would you point us to some of your writing? i needed some scary/wake-up moments to nudge my health into the right zone!


I don't like posting my health blog on HN. You can find it via my twitter account if you really want.

Pocketputer.com should get you to both Street Life Solutions (About page) and San Diego Homeless Survival Guide (Links page).

My Patreon link is in my profile as well.


Possibly true but doesn't affect the outcome. If you can do some things to increase the likelihood of success with low cost, the fact that success is dominated by things you can't change doesn't matter. There are no guarantees, only actions that mildly bias one outcome over another.


Except, does it bias the outcome at all? If you do a meta study of a thousand different medications that work, you’d discover the single most common ingredients are starch or cellulose. Clearly it’s worth taking either or both to stay healthy! Of course this ignores the fact that they’re just filler, the active ingredients are the tiny fraction of the total recipe that are actually pharmacologically active.

The presence of a trait doesn’t imply that it’s in any way an active ingredient, even a very little active. Post hoc analysis is bullshit.


Well if you were entrepreneur-material you would have been able to extrapolate off the limited information ;P


Medications are indicated for disease. Only pseudoscientists take drugs for health.


Statins? Hypertensive meditations? Anxiolytics? Prophylaxis in general?


Are those not addressing states of disease?


They can be used to treat disease, but are often used to prevent disease. Statins in particular are used to prevent cardiovascular disease from developing.


If someone has high cholesterol don't they already have the beginnings of disease? Are there people taking statins with zero plaque in their arteries?


As far as I know, high cholesterol only correlates with heart attacks and strokes. there are also people who have high cholesterol and will not experience a heart attack in their life.


Those with high cholesterol have plaque in their arteries. That is not normal and I would consider that a state of disease.


Why think the cost is low? I suspect there are a lot of people with founder type personalities who have wasted tons of money, time and goodwill chasing their ambition.


If you exhibit the cognitive distortions in the slideshow, this likely doesn't matter to you. Money, time, and goodwill are all meaningless if you don't achieve your ambition, per all 5 of them.


Just because you exhibit that distortion doesn't mean it's true! You might be less happy, even if you consciously think that the only thing that matters is chasing your ambition.


When it comes to happiness, there's no such thing as "true" outside of your own cognitive perceptions. I mean, what would that even look like? Your own happiness is just an emotion happening inside your head; how could any other person, without access to your head, tell you that you're "wrong" in perceiving that?

Now, it's possible for someone's actions to suggest that they have some subconscious motivations that are in conflict with what they say makes them happy. And it's also possible for them to grow in ways that overcome these cognitive distortions, such that chasing an ambition over all else is no longer fulfilling for them. But even if that happens, in the moments before growth they still were not losing out on anything, because their psyche at the time didn't care about what they missed out on.


> Your own happiness is just an emotion happening inside your head; how could any other person, without access to your head, tell you that you're "wrong" in perceiving that?

Saying happiness is a kind of mental state doesn't mean that you're guaranteed to be right about whether you're in it. People are constantly in denial about whether they're jealous, depressed, angry, etc. Happiness is the same thing. We all undergo some mix of positive and negative experiences in our life. We come to a conclusion about whether those add up to happiness, and that conclusion is colored by many things, like the idea that we're fulfilling some important purpose, or "crushing it" or whatever else.

As for your point about "who can tell you you're not happy", that's missing the point. It's true that someone else who is not privy to your stream of consciousness probably isn't in a position to tell you whether you're happy. But that in no way implies that your own judgment is infallible. Nothing about the world guarantees that every truth is knowable by someone, at least not easily. It may be that you're blind to your own mental state.

However, we have very good evidence in aggregate that many people chase success at the expense of happiness. They often later describe a feeling that they were deceiving themselves.


Those people are losers, so the message never comes out, ensuring survivorship bias.


Exactly. People tend to worship personalities all-in just because they are successful. However it might well be the case that they're successful despite their personality issues, instead of "because of" them. When I was reading Peter Thiel's startup notes I kept thinking: He is successful, but it doesn't mean many of his thoughts make much sense or are actually applicable. Maybe he just succeeded despite holding some wrong beliefs.

I would hypothesize that some founders succeeded despite being jerks, but most jerks are not successful founders, and most successful founders aren't jerks.

In any case, if somebody has excellent ability in performing correct inferences and a healthy dose of self belief as he knows what he's doing and knows he has indeed accumulated more than many others trying the same thing, those can indeed be positive personality traits. However if one goes as far as really to "distort" the reality/self perception, I don't think it can end well at all and might well wreck havoc and can even be classic signs of depression. Objectively evaluating evidence, understanding that human beings are not fundamentally different, genuinely listening to others and immediately acknowledging own folly can only be a plus in all sorts of scenarios.


This is sports and really any competitive zero-sum area in a nutshell. To be in it you have to have an inflated sense of your possibility of success, but to have said success you nonetheless have to be in it, so anyone who makes it is going to be a person with somewhat unrealistic reasoning, but since there's no feedback loop they never get the message that their reasoning was unrealistic.


No luck. They are more disciplined and make themselves more valuable.

If these unlucky people you describe win the power ball they'll just lose it because they failed to become millionaires (discipline/money management) before they got the millions.


Stop using luck as an excuse for your failures and other people's failures. https://github.com/SSYGEN/blog/issues/38


The gist of your link is "luck is real, but delude yourself so you won't give up."

Fuck that. Luck is real. And I won't give up. It's called taking a leap of faith. You don't have to lie to yourself in order to take risks.

Your solution is harmful. If people stop believing in luck, then everyone who fails just didn't try hard enough.


In risk management and safety analysis, they draw the distinction between "hazard" (being the thing that might cause damage/injury) and "risk" (being the exposure to it).

I think it's useful to take a similar approach when considering luck. Good things (big contracts, investors) are the equivalent of "hazard", and good market positioning, professional networking, persistence etc. then increase the "risk" of them paying off. It's not about "being lucky", it's about increasing the likelihood of positive outcomes to a level where your overall success becomes likely.


Maybe you shouldn't be in the "Cognitive Distortions of People Who Get Stuff Done" thread if you don't like the idea of deluding yourself of things that might not be entirely true.

>Your solution is harmful. If people stop believing in luck, then everyone who fails just didn't try hard enough.

This is only harmful if you aren't willing or prepared to take responsibility for your actions.


To outright dismiss the possibility of chance affecting people's lives for a cute one-liner is pretty silly.


To summarize, the link says that luck is real but you are better off thinking that it isn't real since that will affect your behavior in a more positive way.

Still not sure I agree in this case (you can think luck is real bit still behave optimally) but it could be a helpful way to think in other scenarios.


I think it's a very poor idea to convince ourselves of falsehoods for personal benefit.

Believing luck is not real pretty much immediately activates the just world hypothesis, which is responsible for some rather awful things happening to people. It's the kind of shallowly selfish, short-term belief set we do not want to have.

It's not just about a given person and how productive they singularly happen to be, why are we focusing on that so much?


"Believing luck is not real pretty much immediately activates the just world hypothesis."

This doesn't follow, and the article adnzzzzZ linked explains how it doesn't follow. In particular, if you divide the concept of truth up into "objective truth" and "pragmatic truth" as the article suggests, you can believe the just-world hypothesis is false on an objective level while still believing that you should ignore luck on a pragmatic level, because it - by definition - holds no bearing on what you can control.


Are you sure? If you are careful about how you divide these worlds it should work well enough, but then adnzzzzZ goes ahead and makes this statement:

"Stop using luck as an excuse for your failures and other people's failures."

This doesn't really sound they have the objective world setup well, and would trivially slide down to judging unlucky people. I'm convinced that the just-world hypothesis is one of the most evil cognitive biases a culture can have (in terms of how much suffering is created, see some developments in Christian religion), so I'm not sure this is a risk worth taking.

In my life I found the most true view (as far as I can find it) to be the most useful. Knowing that luck is an important factor fairly significant rotates what you do, why you do it, what you consider important, what you think about others, etc. I think if we do develop cognitive adaptations, we should nonetheless root them in what is true. I.e., if we go for the pragmatic adaptation, why? For a lot of people, the idea that luck is important is brand new information they should sit and chew on for a while.

> you should ignore luck on a pragmatic level, because it - by definition - holds no bearing on what you can control.

So this is not quite true, and it's somewhat related to the point above. A lot of luck based events are random to the person they happen to, in the sense that they were chosen for it randomly, but have a non-random source, or arise from a non-random pattern. Someone might get sick, which is random, but how the system deals with it is not random and makes the difference in how debilitating that event can be (in other words, society has ways of modifying the effect of randomness on the system). A person might be randomly targeted, but the source of the targeting is not random (i.e., the target of a robbery may be random, but there's nothing random about the robber and their choice to rob).

The problem with the randomness concept is that it's not symmetric. If you focus on the individual only you miss the cross-effects. What we say, when we say that luck is important, is that a given person cannot conquer the world, cannot override its rules, and many of its rules are unfair. What we are not saying is that we should sit down and do nothing, in fact, we're saying the opposite: the world is broken and requires fixing, and the world should be fixed before the individual is fixed. And it is the awareness of its unfairness that is needed here. What is there to fix if a given person is fully responsible for their lives? We just blame the person and move on, as humanity has done for thousands of years.

This sort of approach (separate things into true reality and pragmatic/relevant reality) requires a lot of justification before it should be adopted.


>the world is broken and requires fixing, and the world should be fixed before the individual is fixed

This is just fundamentally wrong. The correct level of analysis to fix the world is the individual. If individuals aren't responsible for their actions and doing their best in life then the world will never be fixed. By saying that the world needs to be fixed before individuals you're giving people an excuse to not try their best.


Have you read my post? I've already addressed this, and my point specifically that individuals may not be responsible for what happens to them, but they often are responsible for what happens to others, and that the latter in many cases is a stronger lever than the former (i.e., luck is non-symmetric and not-global). By focusing on the dichotomy between the individual situation, you're forgetting this very important dynamic.

> By saying that the world needs to be fixed before individuals you're giving people an excuse to not try their best.

Frankly, it's the least of my concerns if I am giving someone excuses or not or if someone is trying their best. My concern is whether the world makes sense, is reasonably fair, and if people in it are happy. People trying, or not trying, their best, is only relevant if it is somehow interfering with that goal. At the end of the day I don't think people doing their best is all that relevant because it's not an objective measure and by definition varies between people. This smells of a religious kind of "sacredness", of people trying to create value out of nothing through "virtuous" action and living. This is the kind of thing people turned to when the world was so bad that improving it was impossible, so they turned inwards, so that even in the darkest circumstances they could feel good about themselves. Are you familiar with such philosophy? Is that what you're doing here? Do you think this is a good time and place for that?

If someone's best is a broken bridge, and someone's mediocre is a working bridge, guess which bridge I want? The world doesn't care about my "best" or your "best" and never did and never will. The bridge only works if it is built correctly, it doesn't care if someone did their "best".

We should not be focused on what is our personal best, because that's irrelevant and self-focused and leads to a shallow kind of selfishness. It undermines what can be built by human hands through collective effort. It gives credit when none is due (to work with no results). It makes us focus inward and generates concern with esteem and status. We shouldn't be worried about that, we're not animals. We should focus on what works, what's a good idea, what brings results.


It's not about correct in one scenario or another, it's about having a low resolution view of the world that will be helpful. As the PDF states, https://vgy.me/C7hfiH.png, "cognitive distortions are filters or lenses that influence thinking, shape interpretation of reality, basis for action". Truly convincing yourself that luck isn't relevant is one such cognitive distortion that is a very helpful way of guiding your actions through life.

Once you get into any specific situation and you need a higher resolution view of things then you can look at the situation as it should be looked rather than defaulting to the low resolution view that luck doesn't matter.


I know what it's saying, but I don't agree that 'convincing yourself that luck isn't relevant is one such cognitive distortion that is a very helpful way of guiding your actions through life.'

We can all put our big boy pants on, accept that luck is a part of reality, and act in the best possible way with this fact in consideration.


>We can all put our big boy pants on, accept that luck is a part of reality, and act in the best possible way with this fact in consideration.

This is where we disagree. A cognitive distortion automatically filters the world for you. Your body does it without you being consciously aware of it. You want these distortions to be helpful, otherwise your body will automatically filter the world in an unhelpful manner to you.

For instance, in the face of this PDF, the person I first replied to said something like "the people who get stuff done got there because they're lucky". This worldview is poor because it doesn't help you get more stuff done in any way, it's just a blame game (in this case the thing that's getting blamed is luck). And it's something you'll do automatically if you're always considering luck in how you see the world.

The point is to get rid of this mechanism in your brain/body that jumps to luck (or any other harmful concept) and to substitute it with something more helpful.


There are many situations in life where one does something that is "optimal" but factors beyond their control cause it to be unsuccessful. Being clear-eyed and able to distinguish between luck and non-optimal strategy is an important part of improving as a person.

There are times that changing the original strategy/task/behavior is not the optimal thing to do, but your "no luck" world view does not allow for that possibility.


Rejecting luck as an explanation for people's failure has the side effect of radically increasing the potential of luck to affect people's outcomes.

Once you decide that everything is intrinsic, any instance bad luck is enough to declare people "untouchable".


Examples of luck:

- Being born into a good family.

- Winning the lottery.

Luck: Something you cannot affect yourself. If luck is your only game, prepare to be disappointed. Also: 70 percent of lottery winners, end up broke just a few years later.

Question: Is having good luck actually bad luck? Or does it trigger bad behaviours that rich people don't have? ... I think this well and truly debunks any notion that luck's got anything to do with it.

In fact I think the opposite. I think luck's got nothing to to with it, and that the only way you will keep your wealth, is to learn how to 1. increase it fast, and 2. how to hold on to it.

As a matter of fact, most people live from hand to mouth. They aren't even able to hold on to the little wealth they create. And thus so many of them think they're slaves, when they are in fact free to do as they like.

Thing is, most people are terribly afraid of the freedom, and – as the example with the lottery winners prove – most can't handle large sums of money anyway.

If you want an example of a guy who really learned about money before he got rich, look up Elon Musk. One of the reasons he dared to risk everything, was because he learned to live on much less than normal people would ever accept. He knows his bare minimum.

Do you?

With that security securely at the bottom, he could risk the venture that starting a new company from scratch is. In any case, luck's got nothing to do with it.


> Also: 70 percent of lottery winners, end up broke just a few years later.

This often quoted line is a complete media distortion of what really happens. It is wrong. I highly recommend being skeptical of the misinformation spread by news and looking into the primary sources yourself.

Here’s the Florida study that this line is referring to:

https://eml.berkeley.edu/~cle/laborlunch/hoekstra.pdf

Here’s the actual results of the study:

Results show that although recipients of $50,000 to $150,000 are 50 percent less likely to file for bankruptcy in the two years after winning relative to small winners, they are equally more likely to file three to five years afterward.

First, this study wasn’t people winning millions and blowing it, it’s people winning modest amounts under 200K. Second, they’re not going bankrupt at higher rates than other people, they’re filing less often in the short term, and at the same rates in the long term. In other words, the lottery winnings of $10K - $200K didn’t help their longer term life prospects.

Is that some sort of surprise? Anyone would spend $200K in 5 years.

The winnings did not create higher rates of bankruptcy, and I don’t know right now where the 70% number came from. The number of people who filed for bankruptcy was 5.5%.


BTW, you don’t have to take my word for it:

“DENVER — Over the past couple of years several news organizations have attributed a statistic to the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) stating that 70 percent of lottery winners end up bankrupt in just a few years after receiving a large financial windfall. This statistic is not backed by research from NEFE, nor can it be confirmed by the organization. Frequent reporting—without validation from NEFE—has allowed this “stat” to survive online in perpetuity.“

https://www.nefe.org/Press-Room/News/Research-Statistic-on-F...


That’s a rather simplistic notion of luck. The success or failure of any new business is largely up to luck, simply due to the number of unknowns: market demand, marketing strategy, economic conditions, access to resources, access to talent. It is also not a fact that if you build a perfect, shining example of the thing you had in mind that it’s automatically successful.

And people aren’t ‘terribly afraid of freedom’, what does that even mean?


Other than a change in 'economic conditions', the rest of those issues can be avoided with adequate business research.

Just because most technologists don't doesn't mean it's actually such an unknown.


> the rest of those issues can be avoided with adequate business research.

That's simply wrong.


If you had an idea to improve on the telegraph that makes it 15% faster for operators, would you start a telegraph business right now? Why or why not?


I don't think i said research was valueless. Certainly risks can be mitigated with research, but I reject that they can be avoided entirely.

If "with adequate business research, those can be avoided" is true, it can only be true as a syllogism where 'adequate' is defined to mean the research necessary not to fail, and any company which fails hasn't done 'adequate' research.


Prove it.


There exists entire industries of market analysts to give you things like TAM and other critical information to avoid creating a solution to problems nobody has.


By this logic any large company can guarantee the success of any product it launches by throwing money at analysts. It should be obvious this is not the case.


I think you miss the point of the parent.

There is tremendous survivorship bias in this analysis.

While these traits were found in a substantial portion of people who "Get Stuff Done", how about the people who exhibit these traits, but don't "Get Stuff Done"? We have no idea how large that population is.

Assuming the author's research is perfect, and every successful person who "Gets Stuff Done" exhibits these trait. The author, at best, has shown these traits are necessary, but not sufficient. Since many people potentially have these traits and don't "Get Stuff Done", there must be further special sauce which differentiates them.


Did you just make up that lottery stat?

Hard to take musk as a good example. Plenty of people lived on less making the biggest bets they could, and have nothing to show for it. Just consider if he had been born in another country or timeframe.

This is not to claim rich people don't deserve their riches. In large, that is a statement many of us fine meaningless. Rather, spare us the nonsensical justifications that require near deification of people that have acquired lots of money. Respect does not have to equal devotion.


> Thing is, most people are terribly afraid of the freedom, and – as the example with the lottery winners prove – most can't handle large sums of money anyway.

This hardly proves much since the group of people who buy lottery tickets is self-selecting. A person who understands probability will not be buying a lottery ticket. Most people buying them are not in the best situation.

There's a lot more going on in the world than people who work hard vs people who buy lottery tickets.


He calls it cognitive distortions but doesn't seem to offer any proof that their perceptions are wrong. It is possible they were provided in the actual content as opposed to the power-points to PDF. An anorexic convinced that they are fat when they are 75 pounds and their body is falling apart from lack of calories is a distortion. These paradigms don't seem to fit the definition. There is always the possibility that these 'distortions' are in fact objectively correct. The criticism of creative destruction in particular - sure it may have costs but is not doing so any better? Thinking that preserving the status quo at the cost of advancement is in itself a distortion arguably.

Furthermore there is the question does it count as a distortion if they are self-aware that these are all heuristics and adjusting accordingly?

Defining 'sanity' without reference to reality itself is ironically downright insane. Like Pythagorians reacting so negatively to discovering irrational numbers undeniably exist.


>The criticism of creative destruction in particular - sure

>it may have costs but is not doing so any better? Thinking

>that preserving the status quo at the cost of advancement is

>in itself a distortion arguably.

This creative destruction obviously only has to happen when something cannot be changed. Then there's the question: why can't it be changed? In stiff organizations this is well-known to be there virtually anywhere but of course in startups as well.

My far-fetched theory is that teamwork is still something very rarely found. So individual people always have their own space, be it a project, microservice or some module. It's their baby, they've designed it, deployed it, maintained it etc. If someone else needs to join the project, this person always needs to ask the creator for permission of everything until the creator's rules are followed 100%. Maybe I'm alone with this observation but this has happened to me far too often. I wish these projects would rather emerge of joint thought processes and also be evolved like that. Then there would be no need of people having to go through walls, exposing border-line anti-social behaviour...


> My far-fetched theory is that teamwork is still something very rarely found.

You could probably test this by looking at different work environments outside of Silicon Valley or even the US.

Also, a few years ago I read a NYT opinion article citing research into what teams perform best. It wasn't all that dependent on IQ, but on those where where, everyone contributes more equally, people were better at reading each other's emotional state, and which had more women[0][1]. It should be noted that women are better on average at reading emotional states, and that being better at reading each other's emotional state may play a big part in having everyone contribute equally.

[0] https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/18/opinion/sunday/why-some-t...

[1] https://archive.fo/BM7BT


Thanks for the references, the NYT article is really interesting.

Actually I recently had a discussion about the exact topic. At my current work we have something like team work, the last time before I had that was years ago in university where we could hand in together exercises in a group. That was one woman, two men in the group. That was awesome, we truly developed the understand and the solution together.

Another point though is that individuals (me for instance) have to learn to work in teams (again). Having worked for years as 1-man-army, I had a hardy time working effectively with other people.


> The criticism of creative destruction in particular - sure it may have costs but is not doing so any better? Thinking that preserving the status quo at the cost of advancement is in itself a distortion arguably.

That criticism is not even present in the slides. It just says "heartlessness, alienation." You may believe those risks to be justified, but getting defensive about as if these are not real risks is denying the real world data, which coincidentally is another criticism mentioned.

> Defining 'sanity' without reference to reality itself is ironically downright insane.

The word 'sanity' is not mentioned in any of these slides. You are getting defensive over non-existent accusations and in the process are managing to almost understand what 'distortion' means in this context but then somehow get it completely wrong.

All of these five things are thought processes. They can be right some of the time. They can be right most of the time. What defines them as a "distortion" is whether they are the default mode of interpretation of the world all of the time, regardless of what the reality of the situation is. The word is not chosen as a derision - see also déformation professionnelle[0].

A more appropriate framing of the anorexia comparison would be "always feeling that one is fat, regardless of actual weight." Focusing only on the moment in which someone is actually underweight but still feeling fat is both getting it and missing the point at the same time.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%A9formation_professionnel...


I guess there's sometimes a difference of degree. As somebody mentioned below, if somebody is dead set on believing himself to be correct as to ignore all the evidence to the contrary, he'll be perceived as a jerk, is in for big troubles and this is actually a common trait of depression. Also I can hardly see how "dichotomous thinking" can ever be realistic. The real world is always grey.

If somebody has excellent ability in performing correct inferences and a healthy dose of self belief as he knows what he's doing and knows he has indeed accumulated more than many others trying the same thing, those can indeed be positive personality traits. So I don't think they can all be called distortions but I don't believe all of them are sane either.


> The real world is always grey.

hm...


Very bold claims, and little data in the presentation. This is extremely soft


Fair, would be interesting to see the data. I stumbled across this because the founder of an incubator in the UK called Entrepreneur First cited it as something they used to think about applicants. (Their USP is they don't look for teams or ideas but instead pure technical talent or people with domain expertise). [https://youtu.be/RhE_0ZRBq4Q?t=2574]


I have mixed feelings about this. While I do feel this maps closely with my own observations, this also generally describes the cognitive distortions of young people. I wonder if the hidden correlation here is that SV is mostly led by the young and not the old.


Is this 'get stuff done' or 'apparently started companies that did great things'? I know the type described in the article, they would seem to be more 'driven founders' types.

So many people that 'get stuff done' in the 'work' sense are those who have good focus, set priorities, and focus on outcomes. They often don't even stand out.

Moreover, the 'I am special' is still arrogant, in a way.

Many of these people can have softer, beta type personalities, but the actions, decisions and and outcomes are still those of an arrogant person.

I know loud, boorish and apparently 'arrogant' people who are at the end of the day pushovers in the sense that they are actually nice guys, soft on negotiation because they want a 'fair deal', loyal to people to a fault etc., they just have a brusque, apparently cynical outward demeanor.

I think this is a very interesting psychological framework with the wrong wording in the title ... or rather, a much better definition of what they mean by 'get stuff done'.


Some friends and I agree there is this "game" which is to own the meeting: only be in a meeting, if you can own it. It sometimes plays out as hugely destructive to the agenda somebody else had going into the meeting, but boy, is it effective at getting (some) things done.


Strange how many people believe this is a self-description until they see it in somebody else. Most people, despite their self-delusions, are not this and are actually deeply offended when they do see it or blindly follow it, such as the worship around Steve Jobs.


Haha true enough. I imagine everyone is like this to some degree. Otherwise you'd never get anything done. But selecting some language framework over the opposition of your peers and seeing it succeed is way different from removing keyboards from a phone.


Under Personal Exceptionalism, it says “not to be confused with arrogance or high self-esteem”; but how are they different?


Personal exceptionalism is when everybody tells you how and wrong and stupid you are and regardless you produce a superior product or convention. It wouldn't happen if you actually listened to the idiots around you.

Arrogance is telling the people around you how they are idiots instead of producing a superior product or convention.

Think about it in terms of your performance (output) instead of your opinions (what you say).


Thanks. How does that apply to high self esteem? Someone who talks a lot about how great they are projects high self esteem outward, while someone with an internal attitude of personal exceptionalism just gets stuff done and doesn’t brag about it? This is very interesting and subtle.


You know you have a certain level of personal exceptionalism due to proof of practice. In my personal experience I have formed the personal belief that people are generally deeply fearful and offended by originality. There is a minority segment of any population that is willing to embrace originality and try the new thing (whatever it is). If that new thing is embraced by those willing to give it a shot then (and only then) can it become a potentially experimental idea by the rest of the population, a sort of social validation.

For the person working on that new thing this is deeply frustrating. The early hostility is super depressing. You just have to power through it, because you have the personal vision to know that new thing solves a problem in a certain way.

Having gone through this more than once I have formed high personal exceptionalism. Due to my technical experience I now have a pretty good idea of what ideas are super great and what ideas are really bad, though from time to time I am still (rarely) surprised at just how wrong I am.

The consequence of this is that I am really bad at marketing and self-promotion. I would rather just work on my idea without telling anybody. Because I have a small following of users to my big github project I know people will end up using my code anyways. The biggest limitation in this approach is that you are effectively removing yourself from external feedback.


Low self-esteem means hating yourself. It means that even if everyone else can do it, you still think you can't.

High self-esteem means respecting yourself. It means that if someone else can do it, you thin you can do it too.

Exceptionalism is a mild delusion that says that risks and constraints don't apply to you. It means that if no one else can do it, that doesn't mean you can't.

Arrogance is about how you treat others, not how you treat yourself.


If you are in actual fact a statistical outlier, you learn to stop listening to naysayers. You don't need to argue with them. In most cases, what they think doesn't really matter.

If you told Bill Gates "You can't do X" and he had already done it many times over, well, why should he waste time arguing with you?

You can also be arrogant on top of that. But you don't have to be arrogant to believe your track record justifies an assessment that the limits that normally apply won't apply to you, or won't necessarily apply, thus it merits trying anyway.

Such people tend to find their limits by smacking into them at 100 miles an hour and it is usually not pretty. They do this because they just can't trust the judgement of other people who have told them countless times "You can't do X." only to be proven definitely wrong.


One is outward one is inward.


Is there a presentation where these slides are presented at all?



Dichotomous thinking is discussed in terms of high standards, with the danger of perfectionism.

But generally: reality is grey; actions are not.

If you see reality as it really is, it is harder to make decisions, and to commit to them.

A quality of leadership is the ability to make decisions quickly. If they are the right decisions, so much the better... (LN)


You can change the resolution of the judgment process to better model the grayness of life. You can also wield and employ multiple models, intentionally, to gain a similar outcome. Actions that follow this modeling and detecting can then be _refined actions_, which is to say that they elegantly fit a higher-resolution model of reality.

A quality of leadership is refinement, which allows for decisions that e.g. unite people of varying backgrounds through a higher-resolution process which, while still dichotomous in some ways, is much smarter about it. In using elegant models one's reaction time is shortened while also bringing to bear a great deal of leverage.


Interesting how the cognitive behaviour model looks similar to the OODA Loop. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OODA_loop. Can general decision making be boiled down to a similar model?



holy fuck. this is me.

.. and half the time i can't tell whether i'm kicking serious ass (rewarded) or causing people trouble (fired)!


Same here. I once had a boss tell me that he never had anyone that he reviewed that had a larger range of good/bad feedback for/about. When I liked my projects and was engaged in the work, I was kicking ass. Otherwise...causing trouble. The solution that I've found is to try to always stay in roles where I really feel engaged and useful.


Reading this, I was reminded of Hardy's Mathematician's Apology. He mentions several of these points.


i didn't find the audio to this talk, is there?

I sense that there are some insights and good observations here, unfortunately for me this is all wrapped in a lot of psychological jargon that i can't penetrate.


Wow I was going to call this stupid before I realized I have most of those


The Big Five

* Personal exceptionalism

* Dichotomous thinking

* Correct overgeneralization

* Blank canvas thinking

* Schumpeterianism (creative destruction)

i don't endorse the guy and didn't vote for him, but, um, this reminds me of Trump.

i mean, how can we assess any person who actually succeeded at a goal that thousands of others wanted but failed to achieve?

i don't know. how did this guy avoid losing? it's just so weird. i'm still seeking good theories for his unexpected success...


Part of it has to do with the electoral college as well. He lost by three million votes or 2.1% margin - another is that negative factors piled onto her from the Benghazi mudslinging, the timing of the reopening of the investigation, the disadvantage after a party has the presidency for two terms straight, to a general lack of charisma and ability to inspire people. "I'm with her." just says to support her not why you should do so - even by shallow soundbite standards. He won at a handicap in addition to appealing the base interests of the worst people.

The first two I can see but certainly not the last three.


He didn't really. Hillary was just such a unpalatable candidate that she lost the election. Look at the turnout data and you will see. Trump didn't do anything special.


That's actually wrong to say Trump didn't do anything special. Trump had almost 63 million votes which is more than Romney's almost 61 and McCain's almost 60.

Hilary had 65.8 million which was almost exactly what Obama got in 2012, 65.9. To say that Trump did nothing is the same narative that Bernie supports started blaming Hilary supporters for losing. It's always the people that vote at fault and not the people who didn't vote.


Attention, interest, decision, action. AIDA. And coffee is for closers.


Interest - are you interested? I know you are because it’s fuck or walk. You close or you hit the bricks.




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