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This is the first in a series of human biases that we’ll be looking at.

We expect this series to make us very unpopular with other educators 🤣.

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 sort of 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 suggesting an individuals lack of success (which is always a gaslight – ask how many educators go to the effort of asking for the another’s own personal definition of success and you’ll be met with silence) owing to them now being positive enough, and having a flawed mindset (see: any entrepreneurial leadership celebrating Jeff Bezos and other low hanging fruits that aren’t really all that relevant to freelancers).

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: from the ones that “didn’t make it”. There’s tonnes of gold there. Sometimes things don’t work out – and those stories get lost as those people don’t have a platform to share them.

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.

Why is all of this important?

All of the culture of self that’s promoted by most supposed thought-leaders is engineered to pit everyone against each other and race to some imaginary top, which is all a distraction from what got you here in the first place: making nice things from the heart, alongside a community of other makers.

Happy bias-breaking xx