The key to success? Remind yourself of how little you know.

You don’t want to be so modest that you don’t’ do anything, and just sit there like a puddle, but when you do things, you constantly want to be checking for your own biases.

One of the traits that hampers executives and leaders in many realms is over-confidence.  And so 95 percent of college professors think they have above-average teaching skills.  And Time magazine asked Americans, are you in the top one percent of earners?  And 19 percent of Americans believe they are in the top one percent of earners.  And yet, some people have the ability to look inside themselves and say, "Okay, I’m over-confident.  Actually let me stop. I missed something that will be germane."  


And so two researchers gave tests to business executives and tests about their own industries. And then they asked them, "How confident are you that the answers to these tests about your own industries are correct?" And people in the advertising industry were convinced they got 80 percent of the answers right on these tests.  In fact, they got 60 percent wrong.  The most over-confident industry was the computer industry.  And so people in the computer business thought they got 95 percent of the answers on the test correct.  In fact, they got 80 percent of them wrong.  

And so we all have this tremendous bias to be over-confident, over-value our abilities to pick out evidence that confirms what we already believe.  And so a wise executive says, “Hey, I’ve got an over-confidence bias.  I need to build modesty bootstraps for myself.”  Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s partner in his investment business, says, "Okay, here’s what I’m going to do to control my over-confidence.  Here’s what I’m going to do to bias myself in the opposite direction."

Peter Drucker, the great management guru had a modesty step. He said, "When you make a decision, write it on a piece of paper, seal it in an envelop for nine months, open it after nine months, and you’ll see that a third of your decisions were right, a third were wrong, and a third somewhere in between. But in most cases your reasoning will be completely irrelevant.  And if you do that, you’re going to remind yourself how little you know and you’ll build modesty bootstraps."  So you don’t want to be so modest that you don’t’ do anything, and just sit there like a puddle, but when you do things, you constantly want to be checking for your own biases.

Should you defend the free speech rights of neo-Nazis?

Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen discusses whether our society should always defend free speech rights, even for groups who would oppose such rights.

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Former ACLU president Nadine Strossen understands that protecting free speech rights isn't always a straightforward proposition.
  • In this video, Strossen describes the reasoning behind why the ACLU defended the free speech rights of neo-Nazis in Skokie, Illinois, 1977.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
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Tap into the "Rest and Digest" System to Achieve Your Goals

Big Think Edge
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  • Emma Seppälä, a Stanford researcher on human happiness, recommends tapping into the parasympathetic nervous system instead—"rest and digest"rather than "fight or flight."
  • Aiming for energy management rather than time management will give you the resilience you need to excel at the things that really matter in your life and career, rather than living "mostly off" by attempting to seem "always on."

Apple co-founder says we should all ditch Facebook — permanently

Steve Wozniak doesn't know if his phone is listening, but he's minimizing risks.

Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Steve Wozniak didn't hold back his feelings about the social media giant when stopped at an airport.
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Where the evidence of fake news is really hiding

When it comes to sniffing out whether a source is credible or not, even journalists can sometimes take the wrong approach.

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
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  • When judging whether a piece of media is true or not, most of us focus too much on the source itself. Knowledge has a context, and it's important to look at that context when trying to validate a source.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
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