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Many of our decisions are based on habits that we have created over the years. Some of these are habits that help us grow and other habits can be detrimental to us. Habits are our way of automating certain things that the mind repeatedly finds to be useful or pleasurable. In the science world, they call it Heuristics
This week I’ve been thinking deeper about the decisions that we make on a day to day basis and how they affect our personal lives and our business. That’s what led me to Confirmation Bias.

Many of our decisions are based on habits that we have created over the years. Some of these are habits that help us grow and other habits can be detrimental to us. Habits are our way of automating certain things that the mind repeatedly finds to be useful or pleasurable. In the science world, they call it Heuristics (mental shortcut that allows people to solve problems and make judgments quickly and efficiently) and you can dive deeper into that here. You see, our mind LOVES to take shortcuts, and that’s where the problem lies.

Confirmation Bias is a type of Cognitive Bias. Simply put a Cognitive Bias refers to a ‘systematic error’ in the thinking process and there are many of these Cognitive Biases (Just under 100 of them), but the one that stands out to me as the most dangerous and the one we need to focus on changing in our lives is Confirmation Bias.

As humans we love to categorize things, when we meet people we ask them where they’re from, where they live, where they work, how old they are…and lots of other questions that help us categorize someone as “With Us” or “Against Us”. We see this in high schools all across the world and we also see it in many business organizations.

From the moment we meet someone or encounter any situation our minds rapidly begin with a simple categorization of “Good” or “Bad”. That’s where confirmation bias begins…confirmation bias happens when someone looks for information that “CONFIRMS” their original opinion about a situation or about a person. As the Farnam Street blog puts it, “Confirmation bias is our tendency to cherry-pick information that confirms our existing beliefs or ideas. Confirmation bias explains why two people with opposing views on a topic can see the same evidence and come away feeling validated by it.

The best example I can use for this is by using our current President, Donald Trump. When a republican looks at President Trump, most see someone that has accomplished great things, and when a democrat looks at the President, they see that this President is lacking. Yet, they both have access to the same information just different views. All because of Confirmation Bias.

Confirmation Bias affects how people collect information and it also influences how they interpret it and think about it. As Warren Buffett famously put it, “What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.”

For our personal life and work life, we must look to see HOW we are interpreting things around us. Are we looking at our business and our clients with a bias? Are we looking at our spouse, our kids, siblings, friends, and even ourselves with a bias? A lot of us are completely blind to reality when it’s staring at us in the face. Reminds me of the book, “Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell, where it shows how Fidel Castro fooled the CIA for a generation and why British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain thought he could trust Adolf Hitler.

Years back I started tackling Confirmation Bias in four ways. First, acknowledging that it’s present in my life, secondly by being more present in as many moments as possible throughout the day so that I can process information better, thirdly I ask myself questions that help me identify it in myself and in my life, and lastly, I approach as many situations from a point of curiosity instead of place of fear or boredom (many situations that are repeated in your life will continue to bring you down if you don't approach them in a new way). Ask a lot of questions to better understand situations. Here are the questions that help me identify it in myself and in my life:

1. Am I judging the person in front of me? The way they dress, smell, look, and how they carry themselves. Am I stereotyping them?
2. Am I listening to what they are saying or am I waiting for a moment to talk and disagree with them? (If you’re reading a book or article ask yourself the same questions. Are you reading to learn or are you finding yourself disagreeing with a lot of what you’re reading instead of approaching it more objectively?)
3. How can I continue this by seeing both sides? Is there something that I’m not seeing?
4. How did I react with what I agreed with? How did I feel and react when I disagreed?
5. What if I disagreed with myself, how would that look and what would the outcome be? (Step away from your belief for a moment)


When we begin to tackle Confirmation Bias in our life we start to see a change in the way we do business and we begin to affect others in a positive manner. We begin to take in information with less judgment and we start to see the world around us as full of opportunities. When we look at our lives and businesses with less bias we begin to grow and see that the world we live in is there for us to thrive and move forward in. We then see that humanity only achieves greatness when we work together instead of finding flaws in each other. Let's work on becoming #ABrilliantTribe.

The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.”
— Robertson Davies


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