In 1945, psychologist Karl Duncker gave research subjects a candle, a book of matches, and a box of tacks. He asked them to stick the candle to a wall so that when lit, wax wouldn’t drip on the floor.
What would your solution be?
The simple solution is to remove the tacks from the box, stand the candle in the box, and then tack the box to the wall. See what I mean? Simple.
But most people didn’t get it because they had a type of cognitive bias about what the box was for—holding tacks. They didn’t see the box for all that it could be. Think about that.
The ability to overcome cognitive bias gives you a competitive advantage because you’ll expand your perception of yourself and others. You’ll find better ways to maximize your skills and resources.
What are you doing to expand your perception and overcome cognitive bias?
ACTION STEPS AND DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. If you had to help someone to expand his perception of himself and overcome cognitive bias, what 3 tips would you give him? What makes you think these tips will work? Do you use these tips for yourself?
2. Write down your top 5 skills. What do you use those skills for? Think of 2 new ways or situations where you could use your skills. Which of your goals could be accomplished by using your skills this way.
3. Look at your list of top 5 skills. Write down 1 or 2 action steps you can do to improve each of your skills. How soon will you get started on your action steps?
4. Have you ever done something you didn’t think you could at first? (If your answer is “no” then imagine doing something you thought you couldn’t do.) What was it? How did you get yourself to do it? Did it help you to realize that you are capable of doing more than you think? Why or why not?
5. Functional fixedness is the type of cognitive bias that causes you to be blinded to any use of an object other than it’s typical use. Look around you and pick up the first item you see. What is it used for? Write down 3 unusual ways that it could be used. (Remember the candle box that could be used as a shelf.)
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