Commentary

Are You Self Delusional . . ?

If you’re totally honest with yourself, the answer has to be "Yes”!

We all are, despite our best efforts, and it is a continuing struggle to remain open and accepting on the issue. There’s an old saying that the one we lie to the most is ourselves and most will admit this when we’re challenged. At the same time we harbour the smug thought deep inside that we’re not as bad as some others we could name!

As a keen student of intellectual and wisdom-based processes, I was immediately attracted to David McRaney’s blogs and forthcoming book which will deal with this subject exhaustively. I’ve seen some extracts and already I’m a believer for he’s done a great deal of insightful work to clarify and explain the challenges we face.

The blog and also the book are entitled "You Are Not So Smart” which is hardly complimentary, arguing that we could all use a healthy dose of humility. However, it’s likely true and without question, this is definitely good for us.

So, we’re aware of our potential for fallacious thinking but we concurrently delude ourselves that we’ve got it under control. That was certainly my position until I began to read more deeply into his work. It was then I realized just how pervasive the fallacies are and how effectively they sustain one another.

David deals with the ‘illusions’ of asymmetric thought, placebo buttons, de-individuation (highly relevant in the UK riots recently), procrastination, the back-fire effect, and catharsis, all of which sound somewhat familiar. He also covers other topics such as priming, expectation, confabulation and apophenia as well as that I’ve no awareness of at all. Obviously, this is a bigger problem than I’d imagined.

The promise of the book is that with every reading you’ll start to see yourself in a new way; these many cognitive biases, faulty heuristics and common fallacies all stand between us and our success in life, not to mention limiting our contributions as leaders and managers.

Bottom line, it all boils down to self awareness. This is unquestionably the first step to meaningful growth and development as well as the foundation for all valued relationships. If we can accrue valid self-insights to why we act the way we do, there’s every possibility we’ll improve our contributions all round – benefiting ourselves and others.

You can get a jump start on the Sunk Cost fallacy, the Anchoring effect, and Procrastination by reviewing a short article at Fast Company.com and you can also register for David McRaney’s blog. I will warn you that reading this stuff is addictive and you may become frustrated since it’s not all there yet; however, there are sixty posts on the blog site to get you started, each of them replete with commentaries.

There’s so much for us all to learn, and what better place to begin than with ourselves. I do not know whether David McRaney has it all right, after all, research is unfolding new and radical insights as we speak, but he will certainly get you thinking. I don’t know about you but anything that makes me more conscious of those current perspectives and perceptions that I’d either not begun or, worse, stopped thinking about, is a reward in itself!

I pass this invitation along to you in this spirit; do with it whatever you will – but do something, for your own sake!