BOTM: Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed

“You’re not born with fear of failure.”

Simply amazing. Black Box Thinking explores the parts of our mind we are not aware of and has opened my own mind to some of the inconsistent and flawed thought processes. The first topic explored is Cognitive Dissonance; defined as the subjective perception of incompatibility

between two self-relevant cognitions. A cognition can be any element of knowledge,

belief, attitude, value, emotion, interest, plan, or behavior. Comparing it to knowing something is wrong but not removing it from your life; being in a cult, smoking cigarettes or having poor performance and blaming it on everything but yourself.

Other areas explored are marginal gains. Myself and others have been guilty of this. I find myself focusing on this ridiculously big picture and finding it burdensome, stressful and damn near impossible. Instead what I have found most useful, is breaking the big goal into smaller ones consistent to the big one and attacking each small goal one at a time. Reward yourself with each goal and you’ll find enjoyment in the process. This will build on your error related positivity vs error related negativity. When something goes wrong, how do you look at it? Is it something that you failed or suck at (error negativity), or is it something that has an opportunity for improvement (error positivity)?

Finally, a subject I found most interesting, why successful entrepreneurs got C’s in school. My initial thoughts for this there were school programs are uninteresting and outdated, so getting A’s were not of significance. Syed takes this one step further, exploring the idea of getting C’s allows you to prepare for failure in life while someone getting straight A’s is seldom exposed to failure. This can turn minor set backs into full blown meltdowns.

I would recommend this book for managers, anyone in leadership to re-evaluate how you think about your own thought process and how you can build and train your employees line of thinking. Anyone looking to revaluate how they approach problems, self-handicapping, goal setting and failures.

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