12 Unexpected Laws Of Human Psychology - Morgan Housel

12 Unexpected Laws Of Human Psychology - Morgan Housel

What is Rational Optimism? (00:00:00)

  • Rational optimism is the belief that the future will be better than the present, but the path to that future will be filled with challenges and setbacks.
  • It is a realistic form of optimism that acknowledges that progress is not always linear and that there will be periods of difficulty along the way.
  • Rational optimism is about finding a balance between optimism and pessimism, and accepting that setbacks are a necessary part of achieving long-term success.

The Benefits of Stress for Innovation (00:01:15)

  • Society tends to make significant advancements during times of crisis rather than during periods of prosperity.
  • Negative incentives, such as the fear of failure or the need for survival, drive innovation more effectively than positive incentives like the pursuit of wealth.
  • Periods of great innovation often follow significant challenges, such as wars or pandemics.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic could potentially lead to accelerated advancements in areas like vaccine research and remote work culture.
  • External pressure and circumstances can unlock people's potential and enable them to achieve remarkable feats.
  • Elon Musk's management style involves setting extremely high demands with short deadlines, resulting in over-delivering by a significant margin.
  • FDR's approach to problem-solving involved setting ambitious goals and motivating people to achieve them, even when they seemed impossible.
  • Many of the limitations we face in life are self-imposed and can be overcome with the right mindset and determination.

Good News Takes a Lot of Time (00:11:04)

  • Good news comes from compounding which takes time, while bad news comes from sudden events like Pearl Harbor or 9/11.
  • Good news tends to be ignored because it happens slowly over time, while bad news is hard to ignore because it happens quickly.
  • Examples of long-term good news include the decline in heart disease mortality and climate-related deaths.
  • Some bad news, like smoking, can also play out slowly over time.
  • Bad news sticks out because it happens quickly and is hard to ignore, while good news happens slowly and is easy to ignore.

Why Is Bad News More Memorable? (00:14:51)

  • Bad news attracts more attention than good news due to its evolutionary significance and rapid occurrence.
  • Major events often result from a series of small, interacting factors rather than a single significant action.
  • The Great Depression was triggered by a combination of the stock market crash, bank runs, and the Dust Bowl, which devastated the farming region in the United States.
  • Small nuclear weapons developed during the 1950s posed a greater risk due to the potential for mutually assured destruction.
  • People often underestimate the likelihood of major events because they expect them to be caused by significant factors.
  • Evolution occurs through the accumulation of tiny changes over long periods, leading to remarkable outcomes.
  • Progress requires both positive and negative experiences.

Progress Requires Pessimism & Optimism (00:21:25)

  • Rational optimism involves acknowledging both positive and negative possibilities and preparing for both outcomes.
  • Businesses should balance bold visions with conservative management practices to avoid excessive risk.
  • Different situations require different approaches, and individuals should adapt their behavior accordingly.
  • Entrepreneurs often face challenges in transitioning from building a product to running a successful business.
  • Different people are suited for different stages of a company's growth, as exemplified by Steve Jobs and Tim Cook at Apple.
  • Elon Musk's constant pursuit of bigger bets is captivating but may eventually lead to consequences.

Hiring the Greatest Leaders (00:28:55)

  • The most talented individuals, often referred to as "absolute studs" or "rockstars," stand out to those who work with them.
  • Having room for error and leeway is advantageous, as demonstrated by the disruptions caused by just-in-time manufacturing's lack of flexibility in 2021.
  • Thought jobs require time for pondering and problem-solving, but visible work is often prioritized over this essential aspect.
  • People tend to make safe hiring choices by following blueprints and hiring from reputable firms, even though it doesn't guarantee the best talent.
  • Vague job roles are sometimes created to accommodate specific individuals without clear responsibilities or expectations.
  • Morgan Housel emphasizes the importance of unstructured time for creativity and productivity, suggesting scheduling 4-hour blocks of "thinking time" in one's calendar.

What Do You Think is Productive But Isn’t? (00:35:30)

  • True productivity may not always be obvious, and activities that appear to be work may not necessarily be productive.
  • Hidden, unobservable metrics often drive significant success, and metrics that were once effective may become outdated over time.
  • Regularly updating the metrics you track is essential for career progression.
  • Networking and reading are highly beneficial, even if they require time away from immediate tasks.
  • Treat reading time as a priority, similar to a gym session, to ensure it's not overlooked by urgent tasks.

Good Things Are Supposed to Be Hard (00:41:58)

  • Success often comes at a high personal cost, affecting health and well-being, as exemplified by highly successful individuals like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Jordan, and Tiger Woods.
  • Unique quirks and eccentricities, as seen in Tiger Woods, James Joyce, and Salvador Dalí, can contribute to success.
  • Building a business is challenging and emotionally draining, but it indicates progress toward success.
  • The relationship between price and quality is unclear when it comes to career success, fulfillment, and personal health.
  • Highly successful people often pay a significant price for their achievements, which many are unwilling to pay.
  • Some successful individuals are driven by a compulsion to achieve, while others have a natural inclination for success.
  • Champions may be broken people who lack fulfillment and believe external success will bring happiness.
  • The Donner Party's story illustrates the extreme costs people may endure in pursuit of their goals.
  • Deserving what you want is the safest way to achieve it, whether in love or career.
  • Marriage succeeds when both partners selflessly serve each other without expectations.
  • Unspoken expectations lead to premeditated resentments.
  • There are no shortcuts to success; one must find the price and pay it consistently.

Most Competitive Advantages Die Out (00:51:56)

  • Success can lead to complacency and a loss of the drive that led to it, making it important for successful companies to maintain a sense of urgency and fear of failure.
  • The "only the paranoid survive" business model emphasizes vigilance, anxiety, and constant scrutiny as a dopamine-driven approach to staying successful.
  • As individuals become more successful, they may detach themselves from the actual work that made them successful, which can be seen in various fields such as startups, music, writing, podcasting, and investing.
  • Outsourcing tasks can be beneficial, but it's important not to outsource core activities that generate income or have a significant impact.
  • Successful investors who launch funds and entrepreneurs and CEOs who become successful should consider stepping back from the business to avoid complacency and potential decline.

Never Discount the Potential of New Technology (00:59:21)

  • New inventions often combine existing technologies to create something remarkable, but people tend to underestimate their potential when they first emerge.
  • It typically takes 10 to 20 years for people to fully understand and appreciate the potential of new technologies, so we should be less quick to dismiss them as useless or unimportant.
  • Examples of groundbreaking inventions like the light bulb, car, airplane, transistor, radio, and internet were not immediately recognized for their transformative potential.

Why Success Looks Easier than it is (01:04:12)

  • People tend to exaggerate their successes and hide their flaws, creating an illusion that others' success is easier than it actually is.
  • The lives of successful people are not as glamorous as they may seem.
  • We tend to romanticize past relationships and partners, overlooking their flaws and focusing on the positive aspects.
  • It's easier to spot flaws in others than in ourselves.
  • People's actions are often a small representation of what's going on in their minds.
  • Performative empathy, or toxic compassion, is a front that nasty people put on to appear nice.
  • Incentives are the most powerful force in the world.

Incentives Are the Most Powerful Force in the World (01:10:57)

  • People's moral boundaries can easily change when incentives change, and social incentives can lead them to overlook negative aspects of someone's behavior or personality.
  • Desperate situations can lead people to accept help from questionable sources, even if it involves embracing something wicked or evil.
  • People tend to dismiss evidence that contradicts their firmly held beliefs, and incentives can drive them to justify and defend almost anything, even actions that are objectively bad.
  • Economic pessimists often provide a product that people want, which is the fantasy of others suffering economically.

Nothing is More Persuasive than What You Personally Experience (01:16:20)

  • People often overestimate their ability to handle difficult situations until they experience them firsthand.
  • Soldiers in boot camp may be filled with bravado but become terrified when facing real combat.
  • The lethality and rate of firing of soldiers on the front lines may follow a U-shaped curve as they become more motivated by self-preservation.
  • People's reactions to events like bear markets in the stock market can be very different in theory compared to in the moment.
  • It's easier to quote Warren Buffet than to take in the threat of the moment.

The Tension of a Long-Term Mindset (01:20:02)

  • Long-term investing requires enduring short-term volatility and recessions, and successful investing involves both natural inclination and learned behavior.
  • People in impoverished situations may have a limited time horizon focused on immediate survival, while the end of history illusion leads people to underestimate how much they will change in the future.
  • Personal growth involves reflecting on past advice and implementing changes, as common denominators in repeated negative experiences often lie within oneself.
  • In various endeavors, a small number of variables drive the majority of positive outcomes, and trying too hard and overcomplicating matters can be counterproductive.
  • Complex financial strategies often underperform simple index funds, and managing expectations can significantly impact people's perception of waiting time.
  • In investing, patience and fortitude are crucial in enduring volatility, and behavioral endeavors require less effort and more focus on simple, impactful actions rather than overcomplicating things.

Why Humans Are Seduced by Complexity (01:31:07)

  • Complexity is often seen as a signal of knowledge and expertise.
  • People tend to associate simplicity with cluelessness.
  • Complexity can create a mystique around people who understand it.
  • Financial advisors and other professionals may use jargon and complexity to justify their fees and appear more intelligent.
  • Complexity can be an intentional confusion tactic to make people feel like they need the advice of experts.
  • Effort and complexity are often the only measurements people have to judge someone's knowledge.

Who Would You Be if You Were Born to Different Parents? (01:34:32)

  • People's beliefs and behaviors are shaped by their unique experiences and perspectives, leading to differences in risk tolerance and time horizons that can cause disagreements and misunderstandings.
  • Historical events and experiences, such as recessions or pandemics, can leave lasting psychological scars that influence investment decisions and economic behavior, with the psychological trauma persisting for generations despite the physical damage healing quickly.
  • Acknowledging and understanding these differences is crucial for effective communication and decision-making.
  • Conceptual inertia, the slow movement of assumptions about the world, especially foundational assumptions, means that cultural adaptations can occur relatively quickly, but foundational changes take a long time, with scientific progress occurring when the older generation who held onto certain beliefs dies, and the younger generation takes charge.

Why the Richest People in the World Are Divorced (01:40:23)

  • The 10 richest men in the world have a high divorce rate, suggesting that focusing solely on career success can come at the expense of personal relationships.
  • Materialism has a genetic component, with about 50% of our psychological traits inherited from our parents.
  • People who are concerned about upgrading their lifestyle and fear making financial mistakes may see it as a disadvantage, but it can also be a competitive advantage as they need less money to meet their desired standard of living.
  • The difference between flying coach and business class is significant, but the difference between business and first class is mostly about bragging rights.
  • Sometimes, spending is not just about the practical value of a purchase, but also about symbolizing personal growth and overcoming challenges.
  • The world can be divided into two groups: those who don't know how to start making money and those who don't know when to stop.
  • Similarly, in personal growth, there are those who don't know how to change their lives and those who don't know when to stop.

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