Just keep it dumb: what’s wrong with the theory

Narratives are everywhere these days. Understanding our own narrative is an important coaching process that helps us gain sufficient insight to make informed career decisions.

But there is a but. And it’s a big but. In general, the problems we need help with are not easy. In other words, the story often has many more sides than can be conveniently captured in a simple narrative. Trouble is, it turns out we’re not good at keeping multiple competing narratives in our heads.

There is burgeoning research that points to our biases in decision-making. We frequently take shortcuts and make assumptions about the available evidence, often falling for the false promises of the philosophy school to keep it simple and stupid.

In fact, it’s relatively rare that we fully investigate very much at all. Our lives would grind to a halt if we examined every grain of sand on the beach for broken glass before taking the next step. A general review of the scene is all that is required in most cases. Of course, when walking through a minefield, a closer look at what lies ahead is the recommended best course of action.

footprints in the sand.

footprints in the sand.Recognition:one

The sheer impossibility of always seeing all sides of the story means that we need some solid strategies that focus our time and attention on what’s important, to prevent us from unproductively brooding over problems we can’t solve. Solid value systems play a decisive role here. Not only do we learn, both formally and informally, a sense of right and wrong, but wisdom also provides clues as to what can be trusted and what requires closer attention.

Proper attention requires effort that goes beyond the poker machine psychology of social media clickbait. It requires the use of our critical skills or our bullshit detector. It means standing still to hear the faint signals or stepping back to see the bigger picture. Taking different perspectives takes effort and hard work. It’s no surprise that we dig the instant gratification of a story that’s nicely wrapped and tied in a bow. That’s basically why we love movies and those weekend cops where the bad guy always gets caught and we can go to bed safe in the knowledge that all is right with the world.


Exploiting our weakness for narratives in the highly judgmental world of social media, where we must actively struggle to resist the temptation to adopt a mob narrative. However, if you don’t jump on the latest cancellation wagon, you risk our own cancellation.

There is no single story to tell about us and our careers, and we should resist the temptation to be boxed or cloaked in a narrow and possibly conforming box. In matters that matter, we must be willing to go beyond the dominant narrative and accept that some of the other stories we can tell sometimes contain challenges, inconvenient and uncomfortable truths.

https://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace/why-we-must-confront-uncomfortable-truths-20221005-p5bney.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_business Just keep it dumb: what’s wrong with the theory

Brian Lowry

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