Risky Partnerships and Cliff Hanging


In my last blog, I said I would relate my cliff hanging experience. Literally. Cliff. Hanging. Ok, maybe not a cliff hanging experience per se (LUCKILY!), but more a forced emergency overnight bivy on a crescent shaped ledge brought upon by making several ill-advised decisions. Decisions based on an illusion of control, an inability to communicate, and a poorly aligned partnership. And did I mention the ledge was 450 feet up on the face of the Fairview Dome in Tuolumne Meadows?

My partner and I had climbed several multi-pitch traditional routes (meaning climbs that did not have permanent bolts for protection) that day in Tuolumne Meadows of Yosemite National Park and, although late in the afternoon, didn’t want the good day to end. We decided to tackle a 5.8 trad crack climb, The Regular Route, which ran up the front face of the Fairview Dome.  Rated 5.8. Easy enough. I was tired, but acquiesced. What could go wrong?

After two successful multi-pitch crack climbs earlier that day, we were feeling invincible. Our hubris was that we could just run up another crack in the afternoon; a late start which wasn’t wise, particularly in the Sierras where fast moving fronts are common. Committing another major faux pas in traditional multi-pitch rock climbing, we carried only one rope. We thought we wouldn’t need to rappel down the face as we could merely hike off the back once we topped out. Our third mistake was thinking we could travel faster and beat sunset if we carried a lighter load. Hence we didn’t bring a full rack of traditional climbing protection and anchoring gear of Camelot camming devices, quick draws, hexes and stoppers, headlamps, clothing layers, or the second rappel rope. Camming devices, chocks, hexes and stoppers are the modern version of hammering pitons into rock crevices to secure your rope and YOU in case of a fall. You also use this ‘trad’ gear as belay and rappel station anchors, leaving them behind if you rappel off this ‘protection’ (not usually recommended over using permanent anchor bolts). After all, we justified, once we summited the dome there was a hike off the backend.

Harnessed up and carrying an ultra-light load, we started up the crack. Climbing was fairly easy on the lower pitches, but being tired from climbing, we were not as fast as we needed to beat the inevitable early sunset in the Sierras. After 6 or 7 pitches ( a pitch is a length of climbing measured typically as the distance a standard 60m dynamic climbing rope will reach or between good anchor station locations), at about 500 feet above the deck, we were thirty feet above and to the right of the crescent ledge when the crack disappeared. A bare slab of rock stretched above us with no discernable route. No crack. No footholds. No handholds. My partner stubbornly tried to find a way up as I belayed and watched the sun slide below the ridge sending us into twilight. My partner failed to realize that even if he could continue, there were no anchoring locations to allow me to follow. We were off route. We couldn’t go up and it was getting dark. We were stuck. We had to lower to the crescent ridge.

This in itself was dangerous as the ledge was thirty feet both below and to the right of us.  This meant we would have to lower down and pendulum swing wildly until we could reach the crescent ledge, one at a time. A belay from above would not help if we overshot the ledge. We would hang below the ledge height on a barren rock face forced to jumar up the rope to try again. As I was on belay, my partner lowered first, down climbing with his fingers dragging himself across the rock over to the ledge as I belayed rope down. Once he made it to the ledge, we reversed belay duties.  But having no belay above to lower me, I had to rappel myself down and over to where my partner anchored on the crescent ledge.  To miss the ledge or lose my rappel anchor, I would be dangling 500 feet above the ground loosely anchored with one end of the rope to my partner on the ledge. Deep breath. I started rappelling and walking horizontally across the rock face away from the crescent ledge. Once I was at a full pendulum swing away, I pushed off of the rock and swung down fast arcing over to the crescent ledge. My partner grabbed my leg and pulled me in.

At this point, we were safe but faced the decision of what to do next. To me, the only obvious choice was a cold, hungry night on the rock until daylight could reveal where the route continued. Having only one rope limited the possible rappel length and would force leaving gear as anchors which would in turn cause us to run out of gear because we did not bring enough camming devices or traditional protection to get us safely to the ground. We would have eventually run out of gear for anchors and been stuck clinging to the rock. {There is no down climbing 500 feet in the dark. Just saying in case you are thinking!}

But here is where the weakness of our partnership erupted – explosively and loudly. My partner wanted to forge ahead and not stop to evaluate the situation. We did not share the same risk assessment and problem solving methods. (I’m not saying either was wrong here…just pointing out differences!)

An obvious critical issue was the misalignment of our partnership.  There was little give and take or shared decision making in our partnership; important in most productive projects, critical in a life threatening activity such as multiple pitch technical rock climbing. A domineering, close-minded partner, my partner was not the sort to take advice. The type of person that always corrected you, for example on how to properly fold a bag of tortilla chips. No kidding. The ‘correct’ method involved folding both sides of the bag to a triangle top and then rolling the triangle top down tight. Every other method of folding was incorrect. So you get the picture. Now, I’m sure I had faults as well, like not speaking up regarding risky decisions with which I felt uncomfortable. But folding tortilla bags was not my problem.

Our partnership imploded on the fateful night of our overnight 40° bivy. Oh yeah, did I tell you that it was 40° degrees under a full moon? Pretty, but with only tank tops and spandex climbing shorts, it was frigid! It is true that it is the darkest and coldest before dawn!

On the bright side, I learned why they called the Sierras the ‘Range of Light.’ As I sat there awake, a sentinel watching the bright moon travel across the sky, silvery white light began painting the ridges of the Sierras as the sun crested the horizon. My partner slept cradled in my lap on the rope to keep insulated from the cold rock as I pondered how this team partnership could survive. The night on the crescent ledge was both a victory in that we persevered and finished the route the next day, but also a failure in our partnership. Communication and negotiation is intensely important in partnerships, whether in personal or business relationships.

Now, if you think my story was thrilling, you might be surprised to hear that the first time the Fairview Dome Regular Route was climbed in 1958 by climbers Wally Reed and Chuck Pratt, they also became stuck on the infamous crescent ledge. Reed and Pratt later returned to the Fairview Dome and found the remaining portion of the route which led, fairly easily, the last 500 feet to the summit where they could easily hike off the back of the dome. Many climbers have been rescued from this ledge. Early the next morning, my partner and I also found the easy climbing route from the left side of the crescent ledge (climbers take note – don’t go right!!) to top out and hike off. Perhaps we should have done some research first, eh?

Any comments you would care to share?

If you like my writing here, please check out my blog CorporateCulturology.com. I welcome your comments and advice for future topics.

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Climb On!

Lesley Davidson



Persistence & the Habit of Success


Data mining Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich regarding persistence.

Persistence is a state of mind AND a driving force of action. No doubt you have heard, “Anything you can think, you can bring into your life.” But, the secret is that you take ACTION. You can’t sit back on the sofa, and imagine your success. Would that we could! Progress requires ACTION.  Action requires PERSISTENCE.

Persistence is based upon the following qualities:

  • Purpose. The definiteness of purpose or knowing what one wants is the first and most important step in persistence. Unfortunately, many of us don’t know what our purpose is or what we want. I suffered from this for many years. I determined to find my purpose by the process of elimination. I like to focus on what I don’t want and move those items out of my life. Purpose by elimination. It narrows the playing field for what I do want. (FYI, one of my deep passions and purposes is to HELP! Hence, my CorporateCulturology blog about culture in our corporate world…what we bring there and deal with there.)
  • Desire. Desire is important if you’re going to be persistent in pursuing the object of that desire. Again, if you don’t know what you desire, eliminate what you don’t like. Ask yourself these questions: Am I doing something I don’t want to do? Is there something I would rather do? Then, as they say, do more of what you love, less of what you tolerate, and none of what you hate.
  • Self-reliance. You have to be self-reliant to be persistent. You must have belief in your ability to carry out your plan. If you don’t have the belief that you can, look for someone who can help you. Persistence and action often require help. Find someone who loves to do what you hate to do.
  • Organization. Firm and organized plans will help you make progress. Knowledge is important, but, again, you can find someone who has the knowledge in an area you don’t.
  • Cooperation. Cooperation is important for persistence because like knowledge and self-reliance, you may need others to achieve your goals. You may also want to get an accountability partner. And accountability partner will make you answer to yourself, your most serious critic. Accountability partners will be able to make sure you’ve gone through all the items you said you were going to go through.
  • Willpower. Concentrating one’s thoughts upon their plan is willpower. Willpower is a crucial self driver also enhanced by an accountability partner.

Persistence builds upon your habits. Characteristics, such as those above, when coupled with action yield progress. If you perform daily actions fueled with the behaviors above, there’s a better chance that after 21 days, or whenever the latest study shows habits form, that you will create success generating habits.

To take inventory of your persistence level, ask yourself these questions.

  • Do I fear criticism?   
  • Do I procrastinate?
  • Do I lack organized focus?
  • Do I lack willingness and desire?
  • Have I failed to define what I want do?
  • Am I indecisive or do I make decisions?
  • Do I need specialized knowledge that I’m not interested in?
  • Do I rely on excuses instead of making plans for progress?
  • Do I have plans in writing with which to move forward?
  • Am I willing to tolerate poverty instead of taking actions?

The last question is CORE! And one about which I blogged in my “Do you know the 6 FEARS holding you back?!” post. If you face deep motivational blocks, go back and read my FEARS blog.

For more topics from the motivational book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill about his interviews with Andrew Carnegie and his contemporary masterminds, see my earlier CorporateCulturology blog posts.

Any comments you would care to share?

If you like my writing here, please check out my blog CorporateCulturology.com. I welcome your comments and advice for future topics.

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Lesley Davidson

D’ya know the 6 FEARS holding you back?


Last week, my CorporateCulturology blog topic was “Do you know your own WORTH?” In my post, I listed self-evaluating questions recommended by Napoleon Hill in his inspirational book Think and Grow Rich, based on Hill’s interviews of Andrew Carnegie and over 500 masterminds of his generation. One question begs further discussion: Have I permitted any one or more of the six basic fears to decrease my efficiency?


Fears you ask? We all have fears that affect or control us. According to Napoleon Hill and his mentors, the six basic fears that may control us are:

  1. The Fear of Poverty 
  2. The Fear of Criticism 
  3. The Fear of Ill Health 
  4. The Fear of Old Age 
  5. The Fear of Death 
  6. The Fear of the Loss of Love 

Uncovering which of these fears (may) affect you can free you. There are of course more fears than those above, but most others are considered minor compared to these life altering and controlling fears.

The biggest thing to know about fear is FEAR is simply a state of mind. Fear is the conscious mind trying to pull you back into your comfort zone. However, everyone knows you don’t learn or grow until you step out of your comfort zone. Fear often manifests itself as negative self talk. And negative begets negative.

One of the most important things you can do in your life is to learn how to control and overcome your fears and eliminate the negative talk. The best way to reverse negative self talk is to write down the negative beliefs, consider them from a practical view, assign it ‘logical’ or ‘illogical’ status, and dismiss it. Many people call this creating a CRAP board. Write down that crap and forget it!  But hang onto your list so you’re mind doesn’t forget about it or forget that it is CRAP. As Bridget Jones, while donning genuinely tiny knickers and sneakers in the snow, famously reminds us, “Everybody knows diaries are just full of crap.”  See there? Another Bridget Jones Diary reference! (PS. See my “This holiday season, don’t be Bridget Jones!” blog post.)

“Nature has endowed man with absolute control over but one thing, and that is thought.” Napoleon Hill

Fear of Poverty

The fear of poverty destroys initiative. It undermines your progress, promoting procrastination and allowing self-doubt and negative self talk to cloud your thoughts with clutter eliminating the focus which is required for success. It is the most destructive fear. Napoleon Hill shared the following symptoms of the fear of poverty;

  • Indifference or the lack of ambition and self-control is a willingness to tolerate poverty.
  • Indecision is a lack of discipline, imagination and focus.
  • Procrastination, related to indecision, is a refusal to accept responsibility to ACT and shows willingness to compromise.
  • Doubt shows up as excuses used to explain away our failures. (Fear of failure is really a fear of poverty at the core.)
  • Worry manifests as a tendency to spend beyond one’s income, neglect one’s appearance, alcohol or drug abuse, and lack of poise.

Fear of Criticism

The fear of criticism steals your initiative, erodes your power of imagination, and damages your self-reliance. Fear of criticism may have roots in early childhood by parents criticizing children. (Parenting tip – don’t criticize or make what could be self-fulfilling prophecies! Keep on the Sunny Side!)  Criticism creates fear or resentment but rarely love. But fear of criticism, due to our basic human need of wanting to belong, is a primal human characteristic.  We are tribal, after all. Symptoms include;

  • Self-consciousness expressed as low self-esteem or nervousness.
  • Lack of poise and indecision.
  • Inferiority complex acted out by showing off, putting others down, or bragging.
  • Extravagance or trying to buy acceptance.
  • No initiative or a failure to embrace opportunities.
  • Laziness or lack of ambition and scapegoating blame.

Fear of Ill Health, Old Age, and DEATH

Fear of ill health, fear of old age and fear of death are all related. At the core is the fear of losing one’s independence, both physical and economic freedom. Symptoms are when people say they need to slow down because of their age. Using excuses of being old kills initiative, imagination and self-reliance. And, you know this is CRAP! You’ve seen the memes countless times now. Colonel Sanders created Kentucky Fried Chicken at 65, Ray Kroc started McDonalds at 52, and Mary Kay Ash built Mary Kay at 45. Be bullish! Age gives the gift of experience! (I’m not just saying this because there is an AARP card with my name on it coming soon!)


The Fear of the Loss of Love

The fear of the loss of love creates jealousy, fault-finding, risk-taking or gambling, nervousness, weak self-control, or a lack of self-reliance.  Napoleon Hill theorizes this is as old as cave man days when men competed for mates. I propose this fear may be partially responsible for fewer women in leadership roles. The fear of the loss of love manifested as a desire by women to be liked and not rock the boat – something often required in leadership roles. (Hmm, maybe there is a study on this out there!? If you know it, share it!)

Regardless of the flavor of fear, all create destructive thinking. All break down focus, motivation and ambition. All result in crippling inaction. However, one weakness trumps all these fears, “Without doubt, the most common weakness of all human beings is the habit of leaving their minds open to the negative influence of other people.”

Any comments you would care to share?

If you like my writing here, please check out my blog CorporateCulturology.com. I welcome your comments and advice for future topics.

Bloggers LOVE comments!  Please LIKE and SHARE!


Lesley Davidson


Do You Know Your Own WORTH?


One of my favorite motivational books is Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I first read this book in the early 1990’s as a college student eager to apply its advice. Think and Grow Rich is one of the most influential books about financial independence and personal achievement. It was written by Napoleon Hill, inspired by Andrew Carnegie who allowed Napoleon Hill to interview him and teach Carnegie’s secret of personal achievement. Napoleon Hill went on to interview another 500 wealthy men and summarize their thoughts on how they became successful men.

Carnegie, via Napoleon Hill, advises you to take inventory of yourself yearly. The yearly recognition of where you are with your faults and virtues (also known as your bad habits or skills!!!) helps guide you toward your goals, allowing you to make adjustments on your course. It is important to do this at the end of the year to include in your New Year’s resolutions. How do you take stock of yourself? For starters, you ask yourself questions.

Taking Stock Questions!

Here are some questions that Napoleon Hill suggests you ask yourself as you take stock:

  • Have I done the best I could possibly do this year?
  • Have I reached the goals of my objective for this year?
  • Have I been persistent following my plans through to completion?
  • Have I had focus and reached decisions definitively on all occasions?
  • Have I procrastinated or wasted time?
  • Have I been over cautious or under cautious?
  • Have my decisions been based on guesses or analysis?
  • Have I improved my personality and in what ways?
  • Has my spirit been harmonious and cooperative this year?
  • Has my relationship with my associates been pleasant? With my family?
  • Have I been guilty of any conduct which was not approved by my conscious?
  • Have I been open-minded and tolerant or been unfair to anyone?
  • Have I wasted energy with lack of focus?
  • Have I improved my abilities?
  • Have I followed a budget for my time and expenses?
  • Have I permitted any one or more of the six basic fears to decrease my efficiency?

And most important,

  • Am I following my dreams or am I in the wrong vocation?

Any one of these questions can give you a starter point to fine tune and redirect your course toward your goals.  If you aren’t passionate about your vocation, it is time for a big gut check. You will never be as successful (or happy, take my advice!) in something you are not as interested in as you will be when you are pursing your dream. It is hard to take step after step toward a goal if your heart is not in it.  Getting to the top, like me at Choquequirao (Peru) in the picture, is tough work…stay on course!

Do you have any questions on how to make, break down, and strategize your goals for success?  Any examples you would care to share? 

If you like my writing here, please check out my blog CorporateCulturology.com. I welcome your comments and advice for future topics.

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Writer’s Block and Mind Mapping


Yes, I have been on vacation and playing hookey from my blog. Then, when I was ready to write my blog post – nothing came out. Try as I might, the font was dry.

Fortunately, I know a few tricks to conquer writer’s block and build creativity. One such idea is Mind Mapping.  With Mind Mapping, a brainstorming technique, you create diagrams of relationships between ideas, problems or concepts. Mind Mapping can improve brainstorming and learning success up to 15%. This is undoubtedly because you form data links and create neural connections which increase the brain’s ability to recall information, enhancing learning and retention of information.

Mind Mapping begins with selecting a central idea or theme.  New, related ideas are connected from the central idea in branches.  Subtopics can, in turn, branch further. Embellishing with color and pictures, as mnemonic devices, will improve the efficacy and memory retention.

Mind Mapping works best in team environments where ideas are tossed out quickly without discussion or vetting. The goal is to get as many ideas down without judgment. This allows for creative thinking ‘outside the box.’ Not all ideas will be practical or possible, but they allow for creative ‘what-if’ thinking that may lead to a breakthrough. If, after completion of a Mind Map, there is no breakthrough, select a subtopic and start anew with it as your new central node, essentially going down a rabbit’s hole.

Mind Mapping Characteristics

  • The subject is the central node.
  • Themes radiate from the central node.
  • The branches comprise a key word or image associated to the central node.
  • Subtopics can radiate off the relevant themes.
  • The branches form a connected nodal structure.

There are a number of consultanat, software packages and websites that allow the creation of, or otherwise support Mind Maps. Or, you can pull out your Crayola crayons and go old school. Whichever technology level you use, you are sure to see the problem in a new way.

What creative ideas do you use to brainstorm?  I welcome your comments and advice for future topics.


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Writer’s Block…it hits the best of us! So, while I recover from my temporary mind block, I will share one of my favorite poems. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Clutter: The Hidden Costs.



lifes clutter

Clutter. Everyone has it.  Some more than others. But have your considered what clutter does to your life? Clutter hides the things that are important. Clutter obfuscates clarity.

Digging through clutter to find what you want, both physically and mentally, wastes time and energy. (Energy…we’ll get back to that concept in a moment.)

More importantly, clutter brings to life the past. If you’re in my tribe and believe that the world is a flux of energy and you attract that which matches your frequency (see Quantum Physics Theory!), you will see that the past is bringing more of that into your life, potentially energy (pun intended) that is not positive. Consider Einstein who said, “The definition of insanity is repeating the same actions and expecting a different result.”  If you want to turn things around, consider what reminders you may have cluttering your life and mind. If you want to move forward with your life, you have to put the past where it belongs –  in the past.

Reduce activities that don’t bring you joy or align with your life goals. This year, I am resigning from several citizen advisory boards with which I have participated for several years. I will continue volunteering in the community, but I will focus my energy on groups where I want to move forward. I will also lose the guilt or shame I feel explaining to others what changes I am making and why. It is ok.  And, who cares what I think anyway?!

Eliminate objects that bring forward past memories, particularly difficult ones. This way, you are better able to move forward in life. For instance, old VHS video cassettes take up space and, if you’re like me and tossed the old technology VHS player, are rarely viewed. Send them off to someone who can digitize them. It is only about twenty bucks per tape! CDs, documents, old photographs, likewise, can be digitized. As I am a photograph lover (and passionate traveler), I don’t like to get rid of pictures.  But, I have learned over time that it is ok to destroy a photograph I don’t like or one that brings up associated memories I may be better off to forget. Try it. It can be liberating.

Now I understand that some things, like old wedding rings (see MY photograph) riing
have value attached to them. If you don’t want to part with it, store it away; put it out of sight and mind. Or, consider changing it into something new. If you’re just keeping it for the financial value, find someone who can assess the value and then sell it. Use those proceeds to move forward in your life or create a new memory. I recently traded in my old wedding band for a new pair of earrings. I feel like I closed the door on a past mistake and opened a window of freedom!

As I launch into my 2016 goals and continue my transformation into a life of intention and peace, I am decluttering debris from both my space and mind. A debris removal might be the first big step on your peace journey allowing you to welcome new things, events, and, most importantly, people into your life. So dive in!  Have a great journey.  And, see my round cut diamond solitaire engagement ring for sale!

Namaste.ring 5

I welcome your comments and advice for future topics.  (If you want the ring, message me and I will provide diamond certification.)

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Image may contain: one or more people and ring

GONE GONE GONE…..Thank You Thank You Thank You to Deerwood Jewelers!  This “Bad Juju” as the jeweler said, is in my past allowing me to move on with my life in a more positive and free way! I hope someone else will enjoy the beautiful diamond!




Managing Overconfidence


Who can forget Dr. Ellie Sattler’s poignant retort to John Hammond in Jurassic Park?  “You never had control, that’s the illusion!”

A classic example of a judgment bias with disastrous effects.  The technological advancement of creating dinosaurs from DNA led Hammond to overconfidently believe he was in creative control and set the stage for failures of epic proportions. Overconfidence often results in poor decisions, perhaps not with T-Rex eating consequences, but loss producing judgments nonetheless. Managing overconfidence is an important part of decision making.

The field of decision making and behavioral economics study cognitive biases such as irrational escalation, loss aversion (see my past blog on loss aversion), confirmation bias, anchoring, availability heuristic and many more error causing predispositions including the overconfidence effect.

Overconfidence effect is excessive confidence in one’s answer or abilities over real accuracy. Overconfidence leads to underestimated risks and leaves one open for errors in judgments.  Some common causes of overconfidence are:

  • Illusion of control. Overestimating the amount of control one has over outcomes that are not subject to influence or control.  I would love to throw in Dr. Sattler and Dr. Ian Malcolm’s banter (ok, I will): Dr. Ian Malcolm says, “God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs.”  To which Dr. Ellie Sattler trumps, “Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth.”  What really fits, though, is mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm’s argument against Hammond’s illusion of control bias, “Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Yes, Malcolm was right; the Velociraptors did not care that Hammond created them.
  • Availability. Failing to envision all the possible outcomes so we limit ourselves to ‘available’ options. Also known as the availability bias.  Frog DNA became the unimaginable solution Dr. Grant found.
  • Anchoring one option over others and giving it more weight.
  • Confirmation bias where we seek confirmation data instead of disproving evidence. This also includes when we persuade others to like our idea.
  • Hindsight makes us think things are more predictable than they are and results in overconfident heuristics and potential judgment errors, as well as Jurassic Park the Lost World, Jurassic Park III and Jurassic World.

Beyond these psychological cognitive bias, there can also be biochemical causes such as euphoria (Alcohol causes bad decisions – See my Don’t be Bridget! blog) and overconfidence common to group judgments.

Don’t fret.  Most people’s decisions are distorted by overconfidence. Luckily, overconfidence can be recognized and managed. Metaknowledge – or understanding the limits of our primary knowledge – can reduce our overconfidence errors by demonstrating our limits of knowledge and, more importantly, the limits of our statistical confidence (Don’t worry, I’m a recovered engineer and I am not going to bore you with regression analysis or probability ranges.)

So how do you improve your metaknowledge? How do you determine how little you really know? Feedback and accountability improves your level of metaknowledge.

Here are 6 Cures for overconfidence bias:

  1. Awareness. Being aware that overconfidence may skew judgments is the first step in improving metaknowledge.
  2. Seek feedback. Obtaining and addressing the quality of past decisions will help correct future overconfidence and overestimation errors.
  3. Counterarguments. Play Devil’s Advocate and look for disaffirming points. Be Dr. Ian Malcolm!
  4. Alternatives.  Run rabbit holes to dead ends to explore all options.
  5. Scenarios. Trouble shoot all the ‘what if’ questions.  Ask questions and collect information.
  6. DATA!  Collect and analyze data. Data doesn’t lie.  However, avoid applying causal relationships that may not exist.


Don’t get blindsided.

If you like my writing here, please check out my blog CorporateCulturology.com. I welcome your comments and advice for future topics.

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New Year Resolutions

finish line

This time of year, many of us are reflecting on the past twelve months and deciding where we want to go over the next twelve.  Whether you are a proponent of New Year’s resolutions or not, this is the time to take stock and make some goals leading to the outcome you want to see this time of year in 2016.

New Year’s resolutions or not, you need to go into 2016 with a plan.  If you have no plan, how will you get to your desired destination? Obviously, you will be more successful if you plot a course for your desired destination. Furthermore, HOW you set these goals will contribute to your success.

Goal setting techniques have changed!  The old belief that you set one year, three year and five year plans has been replaced with new brain research backed success strategies that recommend shorter duration, ‘chunked’ targets with daily action items. With technology changing at break neck speeds, how could you possibly believe that one year, three year or even five year goals won’t be impacted?  Psychologically, smaller targets with daily action items increases the urgency while maintaining the perception of progress necessary to keep us engaged and prevent goal abandonment. Moreover, success in small daily items compounds resulting in larger gains toward your goal.

This year, change your goal setting by doing this:

  1. WRITE it down.
  2. BREAK it down.
  3. CONFRONT obstacles.

WRITE it down.

Studies show that when you write down your goals versus just making them, you are more successful.  (Try visualizing success as well!) Writing down your goals is concrete. “This year, I will ……”  Similar to learning techniques encompassing the three main processing types including tactical, aural, and visual designed to engage the whole brain, the physical action of writing down a goal triggers different areas in the brain than would be activated by simply deciding on a goal.  Additionally, seeing that goal in writing – in the first person – gives ownership – and responsibility – toward reaching that goal. Put some skin in the game – write down your goal!

BREAK it down.

Break it down into daily, weekly, and monthly milestones up to a 90 day limit! Setting vague goals beyond 90 days lessens the impact and urgency of the goal.  By chunking it down into small, focused increments, you can select one to three actions to undertake immediately.  Select the most important action that moves you toward your goal daily.  Accomplishing one task each day is easier than shooting randomly at a target 90 days out. By achieving one action item each day, you compound your success making great strides toward your goal faster!

CONFRONT obstacles.

Like every dieter knows, you must clear out the usual suspects (For me it is chocolate (duh!) and Mexican tortilla chips, not necessarily together!) before starting a diet or you may succumb in a weak moment.  It is the same with goals.  To be more successful in achieving your goals, you should list your perceived blockages so you can prepare a counter strategy to defeat the goal breaking offenders before they have an opportunity to derail you.  For my dieting example, I remove all my favorite cheat snacks and replace them with healthier selections.  For practical goal setting, list obstacles and solutions to the potential blockages so you can proactively solve roadblocks and keep your eye on the ultimate goal.

This framework, when coupled with visualization, scheduling, and activity prioritization, will help you get better results in your goals or in your productivity.

Do you have any questions on how to make, break down, and strategize your short term goals for long term success?  Any examples you would care to share?

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