Car with door wrecked by a truck

How not to be stupid (like I was)

A few weeks ago, I had a day packed with good things! That afternoon I was meeting with a new coach, I had a client meeting, and I knew she had experienced some breakthroughs in her business, I couldn’t wait to hear. But my morning meetings had run over, and I just had a few minutes to grab lunch. 

So I dashed down the street to my favorite falafel place, and found a parking spot right out front—perfect! I went to jump out of my car, and that’s when my car door met a passing truck. You can see the results below.

Car with door wrecked by a truck
It’s not supposed to bend like that!

So much for my day! I canceled the rest of my meetings that day and dropped $5,000 getting my car fixed! 

How could I be so stupid?

Not long after, I came across this fascinating research by Adam Robinson, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

Robinson defines being stupid as “overlooking or dismissing conspicuously crucial information.” (Like the truck passing by right next to you!)

Within that context, the seven situations that compromise our decision making are:

  • Being outside your circle of competence
  • Stress
  • Rushing or urgency
  • Fixation on an outcome
  • Information overload
  • Being in a group where social cohesion comes into play
  • Being in the presence of an “authority.”

So let’s stop for a minute and look at that list. 

How frequently are you experiencing one (or more) of those factors? How often are you stressed, moving too fast, carrying too much in your brain at once and needing things to come out a certain way? 

When you do, you’re in danger of doing something stupid.

But it gets worse:

Acting alone any of these are powerful enough, but together they dramatically increase the odds you are unaware that you’ve been cognitively compromised.

So what do we do to keep our stupid under wraps? 

How can we find ways to break the spell of urgency, stress, information overload, and being “outside our circle of competence”?

I’d love it if you hit reply and told me about what you do, or what advice you’d give. Clearly, I have a problem!

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