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Flashcards in Smarter Better Faster Deck (81):

Envision multiple futures

and then force myself to figure out which ones are most likely—and why.”

By pushing yourself to imagine various possibilities—some of which might be contradictory—you’re better equipped to make wise choices.


We can hone our Bayesian instincts by

seeking out different experiences, perspectives, and other people’s ideas. By finding information and then letting ourselves sit with it, options become clearer.”


Manage the how, not the who of teams.

Psychological safety emerges when everyone feels like they can speak in roughly equal measure and when teammates show they are sensitive to how each other feel.


If you are leading a team, think about the message your choices reveal.

Are you encouraging equality in speaking, or rewarding the “loudest people? Are you showing you are listening by repeating what people say and replying to questions and thoughts? Are you demonstrating sensitivity by reacting when someone seems upset or flustered? Are you showcasing that sensitivity, so other people will follow your lead?”


Lean and agile management techniques tell us employees work smarter and better when

they believe they have more decisionmaking authority and when they believe their colleagues are committed to their success.


By pushing decision making to whoever is closest to a problem

managers take advantage of everyone’s expertise and unlock innovation.


A sense of control can fuel motivation, but for that drive to produce insights and solutions

people need to know their suggestions won’t be ignored and that their mistakes won’t be held against them.


Becoming an Innovation Broker

Be sensitive to your own experiences. Paying attention to how things make you think and feel is how we distinguish clichés from real insights. Study your own emotional reactions.

• Recognize that the stress that emerges amid the creative process isn’t a sign everything is falling apart. Rather, creative desperation is often critical: Anxiety can be what often pushes us to see old ideas in new ways.

• Finally, remember that the relief accompanying a creative breakthrough, while sweet, can also blind us to alternatives. By forcing ourselves to critique what we’ve already done, by making ourselves look at it from different perspectives, by giving new authority to someone who didn’t have it before, we retain clear eyes.”


When we encounter new information, we should force ourselves to do something with it.

te yourself a note explaining what you just learned, or figure out a small way to test an“idea, or graph a series of data points onto a piece of paper, or force yourself to explain an idea to a friend. Every choice we make in life is an experiment—the trick is getting ourselves to see the data embedded in those decisions, and then to use it somehow so we learn from it.”


Productivity is about recognizing choices that other people often overlook. It’s about making certain decisions in certain ways.

The way we choose to see our own lives; the stories we tell ourselves, and the goals we push ourselves to spell out in detail; the culture we establish among teammates; the ways we frame our choices and manage the information in our lives. Productive people and companies force themselves to make choices most other people are content to ignore. Productivity emerges when people push themselves to think differently.”


A lot of the people we think of as exceptionally creative are essentially intellectual middlemen,

They’ve learned how to transfer knowledge between different industries or groups. They’ve seen a lot of different people attack the same problems in different settings, and so they know which kinds of ideas are more likely to work.


Damage to the Striatum (caused by masturbation and porn)

The striatum serves as a kind of central dispatch for the brain, relaying commands from areas like the prefrontal cortex, where decisions are made, to an older part of our neurology, the basal ganglia, where movement and emotions emerge. Neurologists believe the striatum helps translate decisions into action and plays an important role in regulating our moods. ”

He has given up his hobbies and fails to make timely decisions in his work. He knows what actions are required in his business, yet he procrastinates and leaves details unattended. Depression is not present.”


The workers who have succeeded in this new economy are those who know how to decide for themselves how to spend their time and allocate their energy.

They understand how to set goals, prioritize tasks, and make choices about which projects to pursue. People who know how to self-motivate, according to studies, earn more money than their peers, report higher levels of happiness, and say they are more satisfied with their families, jobs, and lives.”


Motivation is more like a skill, akin to reading or writing, that can be learned and honed.

Scientists have found that people can get better at self-motivation if they practice the right way. The trick, researchers say, is realizing that a prerequisite to motivation is believing we have authority over our actions and surroundings. To motivate ourselves, we must feel like we are in control.
“The need for control is a biological imperative,”


When people believe they are in control, they tend to work harder and push themselves more.

They are, on average, more confident and overcome setbacks faster. People who believe they have authority over themselves often live longer than their peers.


Even if making a decision delivers no benefit, people still want the freedom to choose.

Animals and humans demonstrate a preference for choice over non-choice, even when that choice confers no additional reward,


a theory of motivation has emerged: The first step in creating drive is

giving people opportunities to make choices that provide them with a sense of autonomy and self-determination. In experiments, people are more motivated to complete difficult tasks when those chores are presented as decisions rather than commands.


To Trigger the Will to Act

Find a choice, almost any choice, that allows you to exert control. If you are struggling to answer a tedious stream of emails, decide to reply to one from the middle of your inbox. If you’re trying to start an assignment, write the conclusion first, or start by making the graphics, or do whatever’s most interesting to you.

The specific choice we make matters less than the assertion of control. It’s this feeling of self-determination that gets us going”


External Locus of Control

believing that your life is primarily influenced by events outside your control—“is correlated with“higher levels of stress, [often] because an individual perceives the situation as beyond his or her coping abilities,”


You’ll never get rewarded for doing what’s easy for you

If you’re an athlete, I’ll never compliment you on a good run. Only the small guy gets congratulated for running fast. Only the shy guy gets recognized for stepping into a leadership role. We praise people for doing things that are hard. That’s how they learn to believe they can do them.”


If you can link something hard to a choice you care about

it makes the task easier,
Make a chore into a meaningful decision, and self-motivation will emerge.”


to teach ourselves to self-motivate more easily, we need to learn to see our choices not just as expressions of control

but also as affirmations of our values and goals. That’s the reason recruits ask each other “why”—because it shows them how to link small tasks to larger aspirations.”


An internal locus of control emerges when we develop a mental habit of

transforming chores into meaningful choices, when we“assert that we have authority over our lives.”


We should reward initiative,

And unless we practice self-determination and give ourselves emotional rewards for subversive assertiveness, our capacity for self-motivation can fade.”


When we start a new task, or confront an unpleasant chore,

we should take a moment to ask ourselves “why.” Why are we forcing ourselves to climb up this hill? Why are we pushing ourselves to walk away from the television? Why is it so important to return that email or deal with a coworker whose requests seem so unimportant?”


That’s when self-motivation flourishes

when we realize that replying to an email or helping a coworker, on its own, might be relatively unimportant. But it is part of a bigger project that we believe in, that we want to achieve, that we have chosen to do. Self-motivation, in other words, is a choice we make because it is part of something bigger and more emotionally rewarding than the immediate task that needs doing.”


Psychological safety is

a “shared belief, held by members of a team, that the group is a safe place for taking risks.” It is “a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish someone for speaking up,”


Norms vs people

The right norms could raise the collective intelligence of mediocre thinkers. The wrong norms could hobble a group made up of people who, on their own, were all exceptionally bright.


Great Teams One: Conversational Equality

First, all the members of the good teams spoke in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon the researchers referred to as “equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.” In some teams, for instance, everyone spoke during each task. In other groups, conversation ebbed from assignment to assignment—but by the end of the day, everyone had spoken roughly the same amount.


Great Teams 2:
High Average Social Sensitivity

“high average social sensitivity”—a fancy way of saying that the groups were skilled at intuiting how members felt based on their tone of voice, how people held themselves, and the expressions on their faces.”

“. They spent time asking one another what they were thinking about. The good teams also contained more women.”

“The secret to making that happen, he says, is giving everyone a voice and finding people willing to be sensitive enough to listen to one another.”


Lorne Michaels

“He has been known to interrupt a rehearsal or table read and quietly take an actor aside to ask if they need to talk about something going on in their personal life. Once, when the writer Michael O’Donoghue was inordinately proud of an obscene commercial parody, Michaels ordered it read at eighteen different rehearsals—even though everyone knew the network’s censors would never let it on the air.”

“He’s got this social ESP. Sometimes he knows exactly what will make you feel like the most important person on earth.”


For psychological safety to emerge among a group

teammates don’t have to be friends. They do, however, need to be socially sensitive and ensure“everyone feels heard.


The best tactic for establishing psychological safety is demonstration by a team leader,”

It seems like fairly minor stuff, but when the leader goes out of their way to make someone feel listened to, or starts a meeting by saying ‘I might miss something, so I need all of you to watch for my mistakes,’ or says ‘Jim, you haven’t spoken in a while, what do you think?,’ that makes a huge difference.


a good manager

(1) is a good coach;
(2) empowers and does not micromanage;
(3) expresses interest and concern in subordinates’ success and“well-being;
(4) is results oriented;
(5) listens and shares information;
(6) helps with career development;
(7) has a clear vision and strategy;
(8) has key technical skills.”


Five Key Norms

Teams need to believe that their work is important.
Teams need to feel their work is personally meaningful.
Teams need clear goals and defined roles.
Team members need to know they can depend on one another.
But, most important, teams need psychological safety.


Google Checklist for leaders

1. Leaders should not interrupt teammates during conversations, because that will establish an interrupting norm.
2. They should demonstrate they are listening by summarizing what people say after they said it.
3. They should admit what they don’t know.
4. They shouldn’t end a meeting until all team members have spoken at least once.
5.They should encourage people who are upset to express their frustrations, and encourage teammates to respond in nonjudgmental ways.
6.They should call out intergroup conflicts and resolve them through open discussion.


Leader Sharing of Control

we share control by demonstrating that we are genuinely listening—by repeating what someone just said, by responding to their comments, by showing we care by reacting when someone seems upset or flustered, rather than acting as if nothing is wrong.
When we defer to others’ judgment, when we vocally treat others’ concerns as our own, we give control to the group and psychological safety takes hold.


Reactive Thinking

Reactive thinking is at the core of how we allocate our attention, and in many settings, it’s a tremendous asset.Reactive thinking is how we build habits, and it’s why to-do lists and calendar alerts are so helpful: Rather than needing to decide what to do next, we can take advantage of our reactive instincts and automatically proceed. Reactive thinking, in a sense, outsources the choices and control that, in other settings, create motivation.”

But the downside of reactive thinking is that habits and reactions can become so automatic they overpower our judgment


Some Examples of Robust Model Builders

One is a propensity to create pictures in their minds of what they expect to see. These people tell themselves stories about what’s going on as it occurs. They narrate their own experiences within their heads. They are more likely to answer questions with anecdotes rather than simple responses. They say when they daydream, they’re often imagining future conversations. They visualize their days more specifically than the rest of us do.


Cognitive tunneling and reactive thinking occur

when our mental spotlights go from dim to bright in a split second. But if we are constantly telling ourselves stories and creating mental pictures, that beam never fully powers down. It’s always jumping around inside our heads. And, as a result, when it has to flare to life in the real world, we’re not blinded by its glare.


The Secret to Robust Model Builders

they are in the habit of telling themselves stories all the time. They engage in constant forecasting. They daydream about the future and then, when life clashes with their imagination, their attention gets snagged.
We envision the conversations we’re going to have with more specificity, and imagine what we are going to do later that day in greater detail. As a result, we’re better at choosing where to focus and what to ignore.


Productivity Superstars

1. Worked on 5ish projects at once. 3 too little, 8-9 too much.
2. Signed up for projects that required new skills and new colleagues.
3. Drawn to assignments in its early stages. Beginning projects are much more information rich.
4. Loved to generate theories.lots and lots of theories, about all kinds of topics, such as why certain accounts were succeeding or failing, or why some clients were happy or disgruntled, or how different management styles influenced various employees.. They were building mental models at a near constant rate.”


Every Conversation is a chance to build your models

They’ll reconstruct a conversation right in front of you, analyzing it piece by piece. And then they’ll ask you to challenge them on their take. They’re constantly trying to figure out how information fits together.”


By developing a habit of telling ourselves stories about what’s going on around us, we learn to sharpen where our attention goes.

These storytelling moments can be as small as trying to envision a coming meeting while driving to work—forcing yourself to imagine how the meeting will“start, what points you will raise if the boss asks for comments, what objections your coworkers are likely to bring up


Churchill's Stutter forced him

To become a great model builder, how to speak eloquently and what facts are necessary.


Narrate your life, as you are living it,

and you’ll encode those experiences deeper in your brain. If you need to improve your focus and learn to avoid distractions, take a moment to visualize, with as much detail as possible, what you are about to do.


Mental models help us by providing a scaffold for the torrent of information that constantly surrounds us.

Models help us choose where to direct our attention, so we can make decisions, rather than just react.


To become genuinely productive, we must take control of our attention; we must build mental models that put us firmly in charge.

When you’re driving to work, force yourself to envision your day. While you’re sitting in a meeting or at lunch, describe to yourself what you’re seeing and what it means. Find other people to hear your theories and challenge them. Get in a pattern of forcing yourself to anticipate what’s next. If you are a parent, anticipate what your children will say at the dinner table. Then you’ll notice what goes unmentioned or if there’s a stray comment that you should see as a warning sign





Smart System Forces people

to translate vague aspirations into concrete plans. The process of making a goal specific and proving it is achievable involves figuring out the steps it requires—or shifting that goal slightly, if your initial aims turn out to be unrealistic.”

“Making yourself break a goal into its SMART components is the difference between hoping something comes true and figuring out how to do it,” ”


Experiments have shown that people with SMART goals are more likely to

seize on the easiest tasks, to become obsessed with finishing projects, and to freeze on priorities once a goal has been set. “You get into this mindset where crossing things off your to-do list becomes more important than asking yourself if you’re doing the right things,” said Latham.”


Stretch Goals

consistently found that forcing people to commit to ambitious, seemingly out-of-reach objectives can spark outsized jumps in innovation and productivity. ”

“Stretch goals “serve as jolting events that disrupt complacency and promote new ways of thinking,”


Pairing a Stretch and Smart Goal

The reason why we need both stretch goals and SMART goals is that audaciousness, on its own, can be terrifying. It’s often not clear how to start on a stretch goal. And so, for a stretch goal to become more than just an aspiration, we need a disciplined mindset to show us how to turn a far-off objective into a series of realistic short-term aims. People who know how to build SMART goals have often been habituated into cultures where big objectives“can be broken into manageable parts, and so when they encounter seemingly outsized ambitions, they know what to do. Stretch goals, paired with SMART thinking, can help put the impossible within reach.”


Warning Signs for Todo list

when people say things like ‘I sometimes write down easy items I can cross off right away, because it makes me feel good,’ that’s exactly the wrong way to create a to-do list. That signals you’re using it for mood repair, rather than to become productive.”


Writing To do lists that Offer Stretch and Smart Goals

Describe the goals that, at first glance, seem impossible, such as starting a company or running a marathon.
Then choose one aim and start breaking it into short-term, concrete steps. Ask yourself: What realistic progress can you make in the next day, week, month? How many miles can you realistically run tomorrow and over the next three weeks? What are the specific, short-term steps along the path to bigger success? What timeline makes sense? Will you open your store in six months or a year? How will you measure your progress? Within psychology, these smaller ambitions are known as “proximal goals,” and repeated studies have shown that breaking a big ambition into proximal goals makes the large objective more likely to occur.


Smart/Stretch Todolist Example

he starts by putting a stretch goal—such as “conduct research that explains goal/neurology interface”—at the top of the page. Underneath comes the nitty-gritty: the small tasks that tell him precisely what to do. “Specific: Download grant application. Timeline: By tomorrow.”
“That way, I’m constantly telling myself what to do next, but I’m also reminded of my larger ambition so I don’t get stuck in the weeds of doing things simply to make myself feel good,”


What Point is Hiring Smart People?

if you don’t empower them to fix what’s broken?”


The main problem with Sentinel, Fulgham believed, was that the bureau—like many big organizations—

had tried to plan everything in advance. But creating great software requires flexibility. Problems pop up unexpectedly and breakthroughs are unpredictable. The truth was, no one knew exactly how FBI agents would use Sentinel once it was functional, or how it would need to change as crime-fighting techniques evolved


Empowering Workers With Responsibility

When people are allowed to stop the assembly line, redirect a huge software project, or follow an instinct, they take responsibility for making sure an enterprise will succeed.”

Changes the breakdown from something they are being forced to do--reflective of the boss's actions, to their actions and thus something representative of their effort. So they want it to be a success.


To become better at predicting the future—at making good decisions—we need to know

the difference between what we hope will happen and what is more and less likely to occur.


It’s incredible that we’re so good at making predictions with such little information and then adjusting them as we absorb data from life

But it only works if you start with the right assumptions.


Seek out Failure

e become trained, in other words, to notice success and then, as a result, we predict successful outcomes too often because we’re relying on experiences and assumptions that are biased toward all the successes we’ve seen—rather than the failures we’ve overlooked.

Many successful people, in contrast, spend an enormous amount of time seeking out information on failures.


Good Predictions

Rely onrealistic assumptions, and those are based on our experiences. If we pay attention only to good news, we’re handicapping ourselves

Accurate forecasting requires exposing ourselves to as many successes and disappointments as possible. We need to sit in crowded and empty theaters to know how movies will perform; we need to spend time around both babies and old people to accurately gauge life spans; and we need to talk to thriving and failing colleagues to develop good business instincts


How to Seek out Failure in Your Life

So the next time a friend misses out on a promotion, ask him why. The next time a deal falls through, call up the other side to find out what you did wrong. The next time you have a bad day or you snap at your spouse, don’t simply tell yourself that things will go better next time. Instead, force yourself to really figure out what happened.
Then use those insights to forecast more potential futures, to dream up more possibilities of what might occur. You’ll never know with 100 percent certainty how things will turn out. But the more you force yourself to envision potential futures, the more you learn about which assumptions are certain or flimsy, the better your odds of making a great decision next time.”


How to Think Probabilistically

To do that, we must force ourselves to envision various futures—to hold contradictory scenarios in our minds simultaneously—and then expose ourselves to a wide spectrum of successes and failures to develop an intuition about which forecasts are more or less likely to come true


Bayesian Instinct

Statistics Can Provide the Backbone for this intutiion, when paired with varied experience.


The Goals of Better Prediction

to see the future as multiple possibilities rather than one predetermined outcome; to identify what you do and don’t know; to ask yourself, which choice gets you the best odds?No one can predict tomorrow with absolute confidence. But the mistake some people make is trying to avoid making any predictions because their thirst for certainty is so strong and their fear of doubt too overwhelming.”


We all have a natural instinct to overlook our emotions as creative material.

But a key part of learning how to broker insights from one setting to another, to separate the real from the clichéd, is paying more attention to how things make us feel. “Creativity is just connecting things,” Apple cofounder Steve Jobs said in 1996. “When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.” People become creative brokers, in other words, when they learn to pay attention to how things make them react and feel.”


Creative Desperation

We’re more likely to recognize discoveries hidden in our own experiences when necessity pushes us, when panic or frustrations cause us to throw old ideas into new settings.


Creative Rut

can’t see your project from different perspectives anymore,”

So much of the creative process relies on achieving distance, on not becoming overly attached to your creation.

You get so devoted to what you’ve already created. But you have to be willing to kill your darlings to go forward. If you can’t let go of what you’ve worked so hard to achieve, it ends up trapping you.”


Disturbing the Mix When Stuck

When strong ideas take root, they can sometimes crowd out competitors so thoroughly that alternatives can’t prosper. So sometimes the best way to spark creativity is by disturbing things just enough to let some light through.”


How Help Creativity Flourish

We know the odds of success go up when brokers—people with fresh, different perspectives, who have seen ideas in a variety of settings—draw on the diversity within their heads.
We know that, sometimes, a little disturbance can help jolt us out of the ruts that even the most creative thinkers fall into, as long as those shake-ups are the right size.”


Three Things to Improve Creativity

First, be sensitive to your own experiences. Pay attention to how things make you think and feel. That’s how we distinguish clichés from true insights. As Steve Jobs put it, the best designers are those who “have thought more about their experiences than other people.”Look to your own life as creative fodder, and broker your own experiences into the wider world.

Second, recognize that the panic and stress you feel as you try to create isn’t a sign that everything is falling apart. Rather, it’s the condition that helps make us flexible enough to seize something new. Creative desperation can be critical; anxiety is what often pushes us to see old ideas in new ways. The path out of that turmoil is to look at what you know, to reinspect conventions you’ve seen work and try to apply them to fresh problems. The creative pain should be embraced.”

Finally remember that the relief accompanying a creative breakthrough, while sweet, can also blind us to seeing alternatives. It is critical to maintain some distance from what we create. Without self-criticism, without tension, one idea can quickly crowd out competitors.Disturbances are essential, and we retain clear eyes by embracing destruction and upheaval, as long as we’re sensitive to making the disturbance the right size.”


Creative Process

is, in fact, a process, something that can be broken down and explained. That’s important, because it means that anyone can become more creative; we can all become innovation brokers ifwe’re willing to embrace that desperation and upheaval and try to see our old ideas in new ways.


Creativity is just problem solving

Once people see it as problem solving, it stops seeming like magic, because it’s not. Brokers are just people who pay more attention to what problems look like and how they’ve been solved before. People who are most creative are the ones who have learned that feeling scared is a good sign. We just have to learn how to trust ourselves enough to let the creativity out.”


The quality of people’s decisions generally gets better as they receive more relevant information. But then

their brain reaches a breaking point when the data becomes too much. They start ignoring options or making bad choices or stop interacting with the information completely.”


The engineering design process was built around the idea that many problems that seem overwhelming at first can be broken into smaller pieces

and then solutions tested, again and again, until an insight emerges. The process asked students to define precisely the dilemma they wanted to solve, then to conduct research and come up with multiple solutions, and then conduct tests, measure results, and repeat the procedure until an answer was found. It told them to make problems more manageable until they fit into scaffolds and mental folders that were easier to carry around.


One of the best ways to help people cast experiences in a new light is to provide a formal decision-making system

such as a flowchart, a prescribed series of questions, or the engineering design process—that denies our brains the easy options we crave. “Systems teach us how to force ourselves to make questions look unfamiliar,” said Johnson. “It’s a way to see alternatives.”


The people who are most successful at learning—those who are able to digest the data surrounding them, who absorb insights embedded in their experiences and take advantage of information flowing past—are the ones who know

know the best lessons are those that force us to do“something and to manipulate information. They take data and transform it into experiments whenever they can.


When We Encounter Information We Want to Learn From

we should force ourselves to do something with the data.If you read a book filled with new ideas, force yourself to put it down and explain the concepts to someone sitting next to you and you’ll be more likely to apply them in your life. When you find a new piece of information, force yourself to“engage with it, to use it in an experiment or describe it to a friend—and then you will start building the mental folders that are at the core of learning.


Every choice we make in life is an experiment.

Every day offers fresh opportunities to find better decision-making frames.