In business and life, we make a huge number of decisions daily that we may not realize are based on assumptions.
The workday is busy with communications and projects, and if you’re a leader or decision-maker, it’s likely that you’re overwhelmed every day with critical decisions that must be made rapidly.
Due to the limits time, information, or memory, mental shortcuts called cognitive biases are necessary to help us succeed. These cognitive biases are a way of recognizing patterns that can help streamline our work days.
However, because these cognitive biases don’t rely on facts, they can keep you from correctly assessing a situation or making an ideal choice.
That’s why it's important to be aware of some of the most common mental traps that you fall into as a professional or small business owner.
For example, the planning fallacy that keeps you from correctly accounting for how much time a task takes and the confirmation bias that makes it harder for you to hear opinions that differ from your own.
There are hundreds of biases that can have a significant impact on your bottom line.
Look at the infographic below and leave a comment on your #1 bias trap.
Years ago when my family ran a whitewater rafting business it was not uncommon for me to yell to one of my guides “Go get me the green van!”
Being crazy busy I just needed someone to run over the the lot next door and bring the van around to the front of the office.
There was a problem…
We didn’t have a green van!
New staff quickly learned that whenever the boss asked for the “green van” that meant the Blue 12 passenger van.
Why the disconnect?
How about color blindness!
The van looked green to me. Definitely not blue...
Once the staff knew I was color blind they just adapted and the blue van became the green van.
As the company grew I needed a better way to describe the vehicles and we adopted better names for each one.
Have you have ever been shocked to find out that something you felt was so obvious, everyone else saw differently.
Sometimes as leaders, we have blind spots in how we approach our work, our partners, employees, and customers.
Sometimes it may be innocent enough and everyone simply adapts.
Other times blind spots can create massive problems that result in a toxic work environment, loss of productivity and ultimately hurts or destroys the business.
This is precisely why I have a coach.
Even though I consult and coach others it is not always easy to see what is right in front of me. That's one of the reasons why I have a coach and seek insight from others.
Jesus addressed that in that in the sermon on the mount when he asked:
“Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye?”
So how can a leader find their blind spots?
Brace yourself! If you are used to being right all the time this could be a difficult assignment.
Hard as it might be to swallow, this could be the first step in transforming your organization and the relationships that matter the most to you.
Dwight Grant is a seasoned businessman with over 30 years of leadership experience. He lives in CO where he enjoys whitewater rafting, mountain biking and spending time with family.