Why You’re Losing Out

As part of its intricate survival strategy, the human brain is quick to categorize . At a basic level, we organize stimuli into “good” or “bad” to avoid dangers that may harm us. This is a great thing. Until is isn’t.

In modern times, there are certainly risks, but most aren’t life-threatening, or even career-threatening. Yet, despite the development of a neocortex (the newest part of the brain responsible for reasoning, logic and problem solving), the older, primitive part of our brain hasn’t lost its lust for categorization. And, in the absence of man-eating tigers, it tends to sort relatively benign situations into the “bad” list, which can undermine our career goals.

Here are a few common behaviors that may be hindering your greatest successes:

  • You’re too quick to judge.
  • You over-rely on likability.
  • You completely ignore intuition in favor of data.
  • Your priority is to protect your ego.
  • You base decisions on an N of 1.
  • You take things personally.
  • You hold grudges.
  • You focus on winning at all costs.
  • You trust labels.
  • You believe your assumptions.
  • Your plans are rigid.
  • You mistake correlation for cause and effect.
  • You seek fairness over reality.
  • You’re unable to cut your losses.
  • You multi-task as a way of life.
  • You regularly succumb to habit.
  • You compare yourself to others.
  • You don’t make time to reflect.

Of course, none of these actions is inherently all “good” or all “bad”  (that would be another cognitive distortion – called “splitting” by the way – that serves to mistakenly protect us from perceived harm).

The good news is that the human brain has had the benefit of the neocortex for millions of years, which means we’re capable of the wisdom needed to discern when to rely on logic and when to trust instinct.

Happy hunting!

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