Monday 25th January 2021
  • The Psychology Behind Sibling Rivalry

    You can't avoid fighting. You can only hope to contain it.

    My 4- and 8-year-old are closer now than they were before the pandemic - I hear the sounds of giggling wafting from their bedroom several times a night. But the more time my girls spend together, the more they fight, too.

    The most common battlegrounds for my kids are perceived injustices and jockeying for position. The most absurd instance of the latter was when we were waiting to get flu shots this past fall. The girls got into a brawl over who received the first shot. My older daughter "won" that argument, but it was only as she was walking toward the pharmacist's door that she realized a shot was not actually a prize.

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  • Why parents should stop blaming themselves for how their kids turn out

    Millions of children have been studied to disentangle all the shaping forces. Studies have followed identical twins and fraternal twins and plain-old siblings growing up together or adopted and raised apart. Growing up in the same home does not make children noticeably more alike in how successful they are, how happy or self-reliant they are, and so on.

    In other words, imagine if you'd been taken at birth and raised next door by the family to the left and your brother or sister had been raised next door by the family to the right. By and large, that would have made you no more similar or different than growing up together under the same roof.

    On the one hand, these findings seem unbelievable. Think about all the ways that parents differ from home to home and how often they argue and whether they helicopter and how much they shower their children with love. You'd think it would matter enough to make children growing up in the same home more alike than if they'd been raised apart, but it doesn't.

    But just because an event doesn't shape people in the same way doesn't mean it had no effect. Your parenting could be shaping your children - just not in the ways that lead them to become more alike. Your parenting could be leading your first child to become more serious and your second child to become more relaxed. Or, it could lead your first child to want to be like you and your second child to want to be nothing like you.

    You are flapping your butterfly wings to your hurricane children.

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  • The Fastest Path to the CEO Job, According to a 10-Year Study

    Some people's careers take off, while others' take longer - or even stall out.

    Common wisdom says that the former attend elite MBA programs, land high-powered jobs right out of school at prestigious firms, and climb the ladder straight to the top, carefully avoiding risky moves. But our data shows a completely different picture.

    We conducted a 10-year study, which we call the CEO Genome Project, in which we assembled a data set of more than 17,000 C-suite executive assessments and studied 2,600 in-depth to analyze who gets to the top and how. We then took a closer look at "CEO sprinters" - those who reached the CEO role faster than the average of 24 years from their first job.

    We discovered a striking finding: Sprinters don't accelerate to the top by acquiring the perfect pedigree.

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  • How to Use Overthinking to Your Advantage

    Some might call it anxiety, others call it power. Here's how you can use your active brain to become more successful.

    If you're anything like me, overthinking is a common, if not daily, occurrence.

    Your head is spinning a million different directions, filled with thoughts buzzing around. Some believe this pattern of thinking is bad, as if it's a one-way ticket to self-destruction. But in my own life, I have discovered it to be a superpower that, if used correctly, can bring endless opportunities into your life.

    For an entrepreneur, the list of decisions is endless: marketing strategies, financial decisions, hiring selections, to name a few. So knowing how to make decisions quickly, and not get stuck in a tornado of rumination, could be the key to your success.

    Being entrepreneurial, there is a level of craziness that lives within you. Instead of ridding yourself of this aspect, learn how to manage it and use it to your advantage. After all, this is a characteristic that is truly a gift.

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  • Your Brain Has A "Delete" Button -- Here's How To Use It

    This is the fascinating way that your brain makes space to build new and stronger connections so you can learn more.

    There's an old saying in neuroscience: neurons that fire together wire together. This means the more you run a neuro-circuit in your brain, the stronger that circuit becomes. This is why, to quote another old saying, practice makes perfect. The more you practice piano, or speaking a language, or juggling, the stronger those circuits get.

    The ability to learn is about more than building and strengthening neural connections.

    For years this has been the focus for learning new things. But as it turns out, the ability to learn is about more than building and strengthening neural connections. Even more important is our ability to break down the old ones. It's called "synaptic pruning." Here's how it works.

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  • Take these 5 things into consideration when you're trying to find your calling

    Psychologists share their findings about those who are trying to find some meaning in life.

    If, like many, you are searching for your calling in life - perhaps you are still unsure which profession aligns with what you most care about - here are five recent research findings worth taking into consideration.

    First, there's a difference between having a harmonious passion and an obsessive passion. If you can find a career path or occupational goal that fires you up, you are more likely to succeed and find happiness through your work - that much we know from the deep research literature. But beware - since a seminal paper published in 2003 by the Canadian psychologist Robert Vallerand and colleagues, researchers have made an important distinction between having a harmonious passion and an obsessive one. If you feel that your passion or calling is out of control, and that your mood and self-esteem depend on it, then this is the obsessive variety, and such passions, while they are energizing, are also associated with negative outcomes such as burnout and anxiety.

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  • "Innovation = Managed Chaos": Eric Schmidt, Former CEO of Google

    ERIC SCHMIDT: My first office at Google was an 8-by-12 office, just enough room for me and my desk and my little chair. And one day I walked in, and I find I have a roommate. I said "Hello." He says, "Hello." I said, "Hi, I'm Eric." And he goes, "Hi, I'm Amit."

    REID HOFFMAN: That's Eric Schmidt. This story happened on his first day as Google's CEO in 2001.

    SCHMIDT: Now as a new person coming into the company, it's very important to not create a cultural faux pas. Like it would be incorrect to say, "I'm the CEO. Get the heck out of my office." So I looked at my secretary and said, "Did you know anything about this?" And she said "no." And I said, "Well, who said you could move in?" And he said, "The VP of engineering." And I said, "Ah, they are playing a joke on me." And I said, "Well, why did you move here?" "Well, because I was in a six person office, it was very crowded, and your office was empty." So we became colleagues

    HOFFMAN: So was Amit playing a joke on Eric? Oddly enough, Eric doesn't say. He drops the investigation. Amit offers no further explanation. They settle into their work, and do a fine job of ignoring one another.

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  • How to Build Expertise in a New Field

    Better pay, more joy in the job, or prerequisite to promotion? Whatever your reasons for deciding to build expertise in a new field, the question is how to get there.

    Your goal, of course, is to become a swift and wise decision-maker in this new arena, able to diagnose problems and assess opportunities in multiple contexts. You want what I call "deep smarts" - business-critical, experience-based knowledge. Typically, these smarts take years to develop; they're hard-earned. But that doesn't mean that it's too late for you to move into a different field. The following steps can accelerate your acquisition of such expertise.

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  • Why PhDs Don't Become Billionaires

    We're all fans of education. I can admit that I'm a kind of an educational snob based on my own experience in pursuing advanced degrees. As a result, it's always been a foregone conclusion that my kids would also be heading to college to pursue similar academic pursuits, possibly including advanced degrees.

    A big reason why so many parents think and act this way is that we want to do our best to ensure that our kids have the best shot possible at a satisfying and independent life. Everyone knows that the more education someone attains, the higher the chances are that they will earn a healthy standard of living. We know, for example, that someone who earns a PhD will earn substantially more on average than someone who stops after graduating high school. The floor for what someone can earn becomes much higher for someone the more education they get. We also know that higher levels of education correlate to lower unemployment, better health, and longer lives. All of those sound like great things for our children.

    But there's a wrinkle here that we're not talking about, and that's the decrease in variability or the standard deviation that exists when you get more education.

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  • Collaborative Overload

    Too much teamwork exhausts employees and saps productivity. Here's how to avoid it.

    Collaboration is taking over the workplace. As business becomes increasingly global and cross-functional, silos are breaking down, connectivity is increasing, and teamwork is seen as a key to organizational success. According to data we have collected over the past two decades, the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more.

    Certainly, we find much to applaud in these developments. However, when consumption of a valuable resource spikes that dramatically, it should also give us pause. Consider a typical week in your own organization. How much time do people spend in meetings, on the phone, and responding to e-mails? At many companies the proportion hovers around 80%, leaving employees little time for all the critical work they must complete on their own. Performance suffers as they are buried under an avalanche of requests for input or advice, access to resources, or attendance at a meeting. They take assignments home, and soon, according to a large body of evidence on stress, burnout and turnover become real risks.

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