This is the first in a series of human biases that we’ll be looking at.
Something missing from our industry are explorations into the science and psychology of not only buying decisions, but how we as business owners learn and grow.
This is the whole reason A Strange Atlas was setup, and we’re excited to dive further into evidence-based concepts that we don’t usually hear about in our niche.
First up is Survivorship Bias.
Traditional entrepreneurial advice comes from a really militant capitalist point of view that tells us… “Maybe you’re not positive enough… maybe you’re not putting enough effort in”. It reminds me of the phrase “carbon footprint”, which was literally conceived by fossil fuel companies, so that the ideology and blame could be shifted to the individual, and away from them, as powerful corporations.
In the same way, we see hustle-culture and winners of the game of capitalism blaming the individual for not being positive enough, and having a flawed mindset.
In short, survivorship bias tells us about our tendency to focus on only the “winners”, and their curated sticky-notes of “successful” people in big-business who preach positivity to smaller players, yet got big through being jerks (which is less popular to romanticise).
In doing this, we miss out on two things: firstly, the real opportunities for learning: the ones that “didn’t make it”. And secondly, the realisation that we’re probably being gaslighted by false stories, or stories that aren’t all that useful for us.
So here’s a mindset shift: Maybe your mindset and level of effort isn’t the problem.
Instead, maybe a mindset more diverse and accepting of the downs with the ups, is much healthier. It’s behind most of the comedians and thinkers we adore – and increasingly, this celebration of “ok is ok” is becoming a part of brand messaging (check out @heapsnormal).
And along with this idea, maybe we need to focus less on the idea of celebrating relentless self-optimisation, and shift to focusing more on the idea of us being there for a community.
Or, immersing in a new one.
Here’s a great talk by Barbara Sher – an evidence-based counterpoint to a generation hell bent on attributing success to the individual (which always also results in terribly boring people and culture), instead of the collective. If all of the rest of this post sounds like fluff, then just watch this video for some beautiful examples of career movement and growth through community, instead of self.