What’s the better brand of headphones?
Bose or Beats by Dre?
You can’t, because it’s subjective.
It’s a belief.
All brand evaluations are subjective beliefs (a redundant expression).
Because they’re unfalsifiable.
And that’s what makes them so powerful.
An interesting new paper provides some insight.
The researchers found that people derive psychological benefit from believing in things.
Especially things that can’t be proven wrong.
And when we’re presented with evidence that contradicts our opinion:
“The Bose QuietComfort 15s have the best noise cancelling in an over-ear headphone.”
We comfort ourselves and our brand decisions with unfalsifiable evidence.
“But the Beats Studio headphones are cool.”
So don’t try to make sense of the marketplace by surveying people.
Or by doing scientific, objective analysis of various brands.
You may determine the “facts”
But you won’t arrive at people’s “truth.”
And it’s their “truth,” their beliefs, that drive their decisions.
And one other thing.
Those brand beliefs are highly resistant.
Not to change, but to evidence.
Because evidence threatens people’s decisions, their beliefs.
And it’s their beliefs, which create their identities.
Is the Earth flat?
Most people believe that it’s not.
Because they have no desire (reason) to believe otherwise.
Do offshore islands offer protection to mainland communities?
By acting as a buffer to Tsunamis?
Most people believe that they do.
That’s why fishing villages are located behind offshore islands.
Even Southern Californians believe that the Channel Islands will protect them.
But new research suggest the exact opposite.
Offshore islands amplify the effects of Tsunamis.
Increasing mainland flooding by up to 70 percent.
So now what?
Will this new information move people?
Both emotionally and physically?
Will people wake up tomorrow with a new belief?
Of course not.
Because belief in not a dispassionate understanding of the world.
Programmed by the preponderance of evidence.
Belief is motivated reasoning.
Driven by desire.
And perpetuated by selected information.
There’s a generally accepted organizational myth.
One that imagines that businesses are made.
By acquiring, arranging and rearranging parts.
People, teams, departments, managers.
Leaders think of themselves as technicians and architects.
Strategists who develop a plan and fashion the business in accordance with that plan.
Artists who impose their will on the “material” and bring their creation to life.
But businesses are not put together or molded.
You don’t work on them from the outside in, like a potter works with clay.
They’re living organisms that grow from the inside out.
They expand, they blossom.
Like a human body, they progressively complicate themselves.
And so that’s how we should lead them.
Like we lead our bodies.
We give up control.
We delegate responsibility.
We trust our organs to do what they’re supposed to do.
The stomach cares about what the stomach cares about.
It does what it needs to do to keep the body running.
If the head tries to control the stomach, the body won’t function properly.
The same is true of all of our other organs.
Nevertheless the head is in control.
Of what the body experiences.
The meaning, nutrition, exercise, rest and positive thoughts.
And that’s the leader’s ultimate responsibility.
To continuously feed and nourish the body.
Or the body will fail.
Kyle loves to ride his motorcycle.
Really, really fast.
He’s gotten it up to 180 mph on the highway.
But Kyle hates to fly.
Because while sitting in a plane, Kyle’s not in control.
There’s no logic to his feelings.
Flying is, statistically, much safer than driving.
Especially at extreme speeds and on a motorcycle.
But that information is irrelevant to Kyle.
Because Kyle’s feelings drive his decisions.
And so do yours and mine (even though we’re largely unaware of them).
Like Kyle, one of our most powerful feelings is our desire for a sense of control.
(I mention it briefly in my TEDx talk).
It’s hard to see, but it’s everywhere.
For example, a recent study sought to answer a question.
Why do people gossip?
The results seem paradoxical.
But only if you are unaware of the mysterious workings of the mind.
It turns out that we don’t really care about the subject of the gossip.
What we care about is what that information means to us.
“Individuals use evaluative information about others (i.e., gossip) to improve, promote, and protect themselves.”
We use gossip to contrive a sense of control.
To attempt to feel secure about our future.
And we do the same when looking at our fitness trackers and stock portfolios.
Most of us have the human brain all wrong.
We think people are moving through the world, trying to figure it out.
Hoping to understand “reality.”
Instead, we’re being pushed and pulled by life’s circumstances.
Rapidly screening and interpreting stimuli, in order to make personal meaning.
We’re on the lookout for what’s useful.
For anything that what will give us an edge or make us happy.
These are extremely noisy times.
Everyone and everything seems to be competing for our attention.
And this reality makes influence a primary currency.
Once you accept the nature of human beings.
Once you see that we all view the world through a unique and self-interested lens.
One that focuses incessantly on our environment, our identity, and having a personal sense of control.
Your approach to influencing others will change dramatically.
And so will your results.