Wynn-ing Ways: Restructuring Your Thinking Patterns and Defying the Status Quo

Think again

I just listened to a Shane Parrish interview with Adam Grant. Adam is the author of Think Again.

The conversation focused on being malleable in your thinking, willing to rethink a situation, and admitting when you’re wrong.

Too often, we seek confidence as a replacement for competence.

In my case, putting outcomes before ego will always be a struggle.

I’m of more service to the creator community when I share my discoveries and failures rather than being another guru with all the answers. That means being wrong and letting people know it.

The more successful you are, the harder it is for you to see other ways of doing things.

It’s easy to get into a confirmation bias feedback loop.

We can all look back at Blackberry, Blockbuster, Sears, Kodak, and Polaroid and recite case studies on why they failed. Seeing the failure is easy when we apply hindsight.

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Closer to home is trad publishing and what is driving their choices. Why can’t they see what I can see?

To think I’m smarter is arrogant. Smart people ran those companies, and they had a lot of good information yet didn’t change course. Why?

How do you give up what works when you’re succeeding? When what has worked in the past appears to be continuing to work—you keep the status quo.

Wayne Gretzky said his success came from skating to where the puck would be rather than focusing on where it was now.

That’s a great soundbite, but how do you develop the skills to do such a thing in your industry?

You must risk your ego and break from the groupthink to skate to where you think the puck will be in the future while all the other skaters are moving in a different direction.

The first step is a willingness to change your mind.

In my one-page decision journal, I have an entry about when a decision needs to be made and what is at risk.

If the decision you have to make can be changed later with little or no cost (at least initially), then it is a moment for you to look at the decision as an experiment.

What evidence would we need to know to determine the right course of action?

Multiple paths

Can you run two or three experiments to gather evidence on the best way forward? Now, you move down several paths at once.

We saw this with how Operation Warp Speed went about funding COVID vaccines—not picking one winner but spreading its budget across many.

This approach reduces risk and adjusts how decisions are made, allowing you to collect information for better decision-making.

This isn’t a new idea. It was used in the Manhattan Project, where multiple bomb designs were being developed concurrently. Little Boy dropped on Hiroshima was a gun design using uranium-235, whereas, at Nagasaki, it was a more efficient implosion design using plutonium-239.

Many of the most intractable problems of making an atomic bomb were solved by letting multiple teams work towards a solution.

Multiple refining processes were tested to make plutonium. In the end, the solution was a combination of methods, not just using one.

This adds another method to your decision-making process.

Rather than a hard decision of yes/no, you can have a fluid information-gathering process that provides data for you to make later choices.

If you are triggered when you hear ideas that conflict with your thoughts, you could be in the dogma kennel—caged within your own limiting beliefs. Your blind faith in only one way or the status quo won’t allow you to explore an alternative method. You could get stuck on the path to becoming obsolete.

A stronger position is to equally argue both sides of an issue and understand those with opposite views.

Want to take it to another level?

Make a list of what data you would need to see to adopt a conflicting idea. This flexibility in thinking lets you break away from your ego’s need to have a world that aligns with your deeply held convictions and step into a world where you can see opportunities faster.

I would like to believe that before getting triggered by the defense of my status quo, I would be able to ask questions and form an opinion that works for me to abandon the status quo and take the view that would deliver a better option.

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Did you know the “Southwest System” was copied from another airline?

The original short-haul friendly airline with standard equipment was Southwest Pacific Airlines, operating out of San Diego.

When Herb Kelleher started Southwest Airlines, he copied the playbook but looked to simplify and reduce the model.

PSA is no longer in business. How is it that the originators of a successful system failed?

Was it they strayed from that system?


I suggest that Southwest Airlines took the example system, then stepped outside of that system and made better decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of.

A willingness to adapt from the system of success through rigorous analysis and choice-making creates a better approach.

Can you skate to where the puck WILL be rather than focusing on where the puck is now?

Let’s look at that a bit deeper…

Your marketing approach

Is your advertising part of a MARKETING effort to help a new reader know, like, and trust you?

Or is it a common funnel strategy designed by others of sending an ad to buy a book by asking for a sale?

Is it focused on clicks and conversions or funds and fans?

If a new potential reader gives you some of their precious attention, how do you connect with them to help them understand what you offer?

Can you even think critically about this subject, or has it become a sacred cow?

Do you have a better chance of skating where the puck will be by just adopting others’ advertising strategies, or would you be better served by designing a system that focuses on customer awareness and delight?

Once you get your answers to those questions, you will have some new tools to decide how to move forward. Better still, you’ll see what to keep and what to abandon.

Read: Why a Supportive Peer Group is a Necessity for Self-Published Authors