Friday, December 10, 2010
Tuesday this week, I had a morning appointment to keep in an unfamiliar part of town, so, since I could, I made a dry run Monday morning around the same time. I found where I needed to go, as well as a quiet coffee shop I could use to wait in case I got there inordinately early. As it turned out, I needed the coffee shop: There was nowhere to sit inside that office building, and the place I was headed was still closed when I got there. (I was only a half hour early!) As often occurs, I enjoyed the unusual excursion, but one image -- of a statuesque woman using a walking stick -- stands out in particular. That image, for its example of thinking outside the box, inspires the rest of the post.
The Walking Stick
I was returning home from the scouting mission I mentioned above and, from a trolley, barely got a glimpse of a woman walking up to the building she was about to enter. Tall and fashionably dressed, she was using a walking stick. It wasn't clear to me whether she needed the stick for balance or support, but what struck me in any case was how well she carried it off.
I vaguely recall the walking stick appearing to be metallic, perhaps copper-like in color, but not gaudy, and perhaps jointed, like bamboo. This was no ordinary cane, and yet it did not plead for attention. I was looking at someone with a remarkable sense of style who, if she did need the cane, had turned an inconvenience into an asset. I actually thought for an instant something like, "If I ever have to use a walking stick, that's the way I would want to do it."
(Walking sticks are, by the way, much more interesting than you might think. Some people collect them. Just looking at the Wikipedia article about them was almost enough to make me want one...)
To continue my theme, but from nearly the opposite angle, John Cook presents an interesting idea: Might you sometimes need something because you have it?
Some people need to work because they work. A family may find that their second income is going entirely to expenses that would go away if one person stayed home.Or, to put it in slightly different (but less memorable) terms, might one imagine that one "needs" something because of an unexamined premise that appears to necessitate whatever it is?
Ten Thinking Traps
And, to go further, from making lemonade out of lemons, through tossing out the lemons, all the way to not buying them in the first place, I enjoyed this post on ten thinking traps.
You feel the stock market will be going down and that now may be a good time to sell your stock. Just to be reassured of your hunch, you call a friend that has just sold all her stock to find out her reasons.That's part of the description of the "Confirmation Trap." Here's part of what to do to avoid it.
Congratulations, you have just fallen into the Confirmation Trap: looking for information that will most likely support your initial point of view -- while conveniently avoiding information that challenges it.
Don't ask leading questions. When asking for advice, make neutral questions to avoid people merely confirming your biases. "What should I do with my stocks?" works better than "Should I sell my stocks today?"The confirmation trap is a favorite of mine since I discovered myself falling into it many years ago and trained myself to avoid it. Ever since then, I have always sought out advice from multiple sources when making important changes. The above excerpt improves on that rule.
Knowing one's limitations allows one to overcome them.