Some insights about human nature (life hacks)
- We value progress, but progress requires change and we don’t like change — especially when it happens to us.
- We all want to be liked. At the same time, we want to be right. When interacting with others, these desires conflict. We treat disagreements as zero sum and binary — someone is right and someone is wrong.
- We need constraints to unlock productive creativity, yet we reject and rebel against those same constraints.
- We exalt the value of following rules or “doing things the right way”, yet nearly every major success (especially “fat tail” success) comes from breaking/bending/ignoring the rules. And, the people at the top of most organizations would fail kindergarten ethics.
- We treat the ability to be hypocritical as power — we even revere people who’ve reached “post-hypocritical” status, yet we claim to disdain it and revel in exposing it.
- We all talk about how much we hate being sold to, yet we’re sold most of our decisions and opinions. We’re not only susceptible, we crave it.
- We expect logic and reason to impact the decisions of others when we know that our own decisions are emotional.
A few notes: I wrote this a number of years ago, but still find these to be true. Understanding these can be a very powerful life hack to help you make more sense of how people around you behave. The more you understand human nature and human motivations, the easier it becomes to get things done.
I have perhaps become a bit more cynical in the time since I wrote this unfortunately. For example, I would argue now that there is a direct, linear correlation between how important a decision is and how much emotion (and not logic) drives that decision. And, I now believe that hypocrisy isn't just a means to collect power, but also a projection of power: "do as I say, not as I do".