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Why Smart People Come up With Dumb Ideas

Why Smart People Come up With Dumb Ideas
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In July 2014, a bunch of engineering graduates — very smart people — decided they had identified a pain point that could become a company. The pain point was that, our search results (think Google) and our News Feed (think Facebook) are personalized; but our homes, where we spend the majority of our time, are not. They founded a startup called Lumos and decided to begin building smart Internet-connected switches to make home personalization a thing. People could install them in their home. The switches would learn from people’s behaviors like when they enter or leave home, and what times they use certain appliances, and personalize all the electric appliances in a home.

It seemed like a great idea. If it could, it seemed to be a multi-billion dollar market.

But it eventually died out. It never had the chance to become an Apple, Google, or Facebook.

Lumos failed. Why? The founders were smart, driven guys. They were working 14-hour days for five-six months. How is this possible?

They failed for many reasons including a lack of due diligence, not being the target users of their product, misunderstanding the market and cost structure, and more.

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But one of the biggest problem was that, the ideas weren’t really there. The product-market fit didn’t make sense. Neither did the cost structure. They had doubts but weren’t transparent about them. A sunk cost bias sunk in.[1]

So yes, smart people can come up with bad ideas. And it happens rather consistently.

The main issue is that we generally assume this formula to be true:

Smart = Always Right = Successful?

    This formula creates a situation where it’s difficult to admit having made mistakes or having done something wrong. If we admit a wrong, we’re not smart enough and not successful. No one wants to feel that way.

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    There is also a “sunk cost bias,” which means it’s difficult to let go of things you’ve invested in. This was actually a problem with Lumos. They couldn’t abandon some of their original ideas and suffered as a result.

    Success is easy to see and visually presents itself well: nice car, big house, good salary, flashy clothes, etc. But usually success is preceded by tons and tons of failure.

    James Dyson’s vacuum cleaners is a great example.

      You see the success: his name is on the vacuum, and somewhat synonymous with the vacuum brand. What you don’t see is that it took him 5,126 attempts to finally get the vacuum right. You don’t see the 5,126 failures.

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      What’s the formula we should use? Try this one:

      Truly Smart = Right + Wrong = Successful

        If you understand that failures are progress, and mistakes made can contribute to true success, you will be better off.

        Prove Yourself Wrong

        You think an idea is perfect? It’s not. Doubt yourself. It’s a way to show how much effort you’ve invested in yourself.

        Understand that failures are progress and that mistakes made will contribute to true success. No matter how much you’ve invested in something, you can still challenge it and grow it to something else.

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        One of the most successful stocks of the last 30 years is a little-known company called Balchem, which has grown 107, 099 percent (not a typo) since 1985. One of the hallmarks of Balchem is admitting and embracing failure. Their stock has significantly outperformed Apple, Amazon, and other top companies during that time. Much of it is rooted in understanding that failure will be there (and often) before success will.[2]

        Look Past Your Effort

        You can defeat the sunk cost issue by looking at the effort you’ve put into something as options to review, not obligations.[3]

        For example, if you sink money into anything, view it as in-progress with the parts as options for future use. Don’t necessarily think that you have to go down the original route you were planning. Remember: Twitter was initially designed to be a platform for podcasting. The founders didn’t stick with that, and elements of Twitter (Arab Spring, etc.) have legitimately changed the world. Don’t be beholden to your first idea.

        Admit Being Dumb Is the New Smart

        Smart people are never satisfied with what they know. They want to get out and learn more and experience more. Less-intelligent people learn a little bit and think they’re set. They don’t grow.

        That’s the essential part. Life, and acquiring knowledge, is about growing. That means failing and missing on ideas. That’s the crucial element. Without that, it’s very hard to know whether an idea is truly good or “vetted.”

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        Lean into the skid, embrace failure, and see the effort you’ve sunk in as a future option, not a definitive obligation. Your process of arriving at the truly smart idea will only become more refined.

        Reference

        More by this author

        Leon Ho

        Founder & CEO of Lifehack

        Can’t Focus? The Mistake You’re Making and How to Focus Better A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success 17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It How to Think Critically: 5 Powerful Techniques

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        Last Updated on June 1, 2021

        10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner

        10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner
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        The importance of learning cannot be underestimated. Learning empowers us to fulfill our ideas and realize our full potential. The speed of gaining new knowledge is practically as important as its volume. Who wouldn’t love to remember tons of information as quickly as possible?

        If you want to start learning faster, you need a new approach towards the process which would enable you to comprehend the essence of the matter and relate it with new concepts you encounter.

        The following 10 tips will help you become a fast learner:

        1. Analyze Your Learning Style

        Before you can start experimenting with different studying methods, you need to understand what type of learner you are:

        Is your memory associated to sound?

        Maybe you can remember what you were reading when a particular song was playing? If this is your case, then you fall into the category of auditory learners.

        If you want to start studying more efficiently, then it would be wise to record the lectures and listen to them instead of reading textbooks.

        Do you relate information to visual content?

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        If you are a visual learner, you should implement images, graphs, charts, infographics, colorful lists, flashcards, and other types of visual content when you study.

        Are you a physical learner?

        If your learning style is not auditory or visual, then you might be a physical learner. Some students have too much energy; they tap their feet or play with a pen during lectures.

        A walk before a lecture will calm your nerves down. You can try studying or listening to audio lectures during a walk. That will help you remember the information more quickly.

        2. Use the Right EdTech Tools

        Technology has the power of making everything easier. There are plenty of websites, online tools, and smartphone/tablet apps that will boost your skills of planning, writing, time management and brainstorming, etc.

        One way of improving your productivity is using flashcards. You can make your own cards, but you can also download pre-made kits online:

        • StudyBlue is one of the best online destinations when it comes to creating and discovering flashcards from all areas of study.
        • If you are looking for a tool that makes the process of brainstorming more effective, then you should try PapersGear.
        • You also need the SelfControl app, which will eliminate all distractions when you need to stay focused.
        • Quizlet is another website you should bookmark; it offers study tools that will transform the learning process into a fun activity.
        • Notella is an app that will help you take quick notes at any time.
        • Brainscape is an educational platform that makes complex subjects easy by relying on cognitive science.
        • You can also try Dragon Dictation, especially if you are an audio learner.

        3. Train Your Brain to Accept New Information

        Efficient studying is a habit. Your brain needs constant training if you want to improve your focus and complete complex tasks without taking breaks.

        One way to achieve this goal is to create a private learning space in your home. You’ll also need a specific time of day that you’ll devote to studying. That will make your brain ready to accept the information it gets, so you’ll notice you’re starting to learn much faster by the day.

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        4. Get Some Exercise

        You are aware of the fact that physical activity is good for your body, but your brain needs it too!

        Light exercise, such as yoga, can help you learn much faster. If you are inactive throughout the day, your body will want to move, so it will be difficult for you to stay focused.

        If, on the other hand, you canalize your energy through light training sessions, you will be ready to study productively.

        5. Work on the Ambiance

        If you have a noisy neighborhood or a working environment full of distractions, you won’t be able to learn or study no matter how hard you try.

        If you want to learn quickly, you need a quiet, distraction-free environment that won’t disturb the mind in any way. Such a peaceful place will set you in learning mode as soon as you find yourself in it.

        6. Take a Lot of Notes

        Only few people are capable of remembering information as they read it. If you don’t belong to this category of privileged learners, then you absolutely need to start taking notes.

        This simple learning method will force you to think about the essence of the material. It will also give you a nice framework that will help you review the things you’ve learned.

        Write down only the most important information. That will help you remember all the other things you’ve learned.

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        Here’re some tips to take notes effectively: Why Successful People Take Notes And How to Make It Your Habit

        7. Make Mind Maps

        Mind maps are among the best tools to speed up the learning process. Your mind will process information effectively if you create a visual representation of the things you’re about to learn.

        You can create a nice mind map in the old-school way: take a large sheet of paper and organize all facts and explanations. Use pictures, note-cards, and other symbols you can think of. Group similar items together and connect them with colorful pens.

        Some tips mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

        Of course, you can also use an online mind mapping tool if you want to save yourself some time.

        8. Experiment with Memorization Methods

        Memorizing is often misused in the process of studying. Some people memorize whole sentences, paragraphs and lectures without grasping their essence.

        However, memorization can be useful when you need to learn definitions and classifications really quickly. Don’t avoid this technique if you want to fill your brain with information without wasting any time.

        Try this if you want to memorize more and faster: How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People

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        9. Find the Right Context

        Memorization works solely in times of urgency. If you want to learn in the most effective manner, then you need to have context for information.

        Find an aspect that’s interesting for you; try to research for related information, and you’ll discover the joy of learning.

        The first step? Jot down as much information and as many ideas as possible: How Simply Jotting Down Ideas Can Make You Smarter

        With time, this practice will make you a faster learner.

        10. Study Every Day

        It will take some time before you get used to a daily studying routine, but your mind will eventually grasp the habit.

        The more frequently you study, the less time it will take for you to remember the things you read.

        If you start studying as soon as possible after you have learned some new concepts, it won’t take long at all for you to get ready for an exam. Now that sounds really good, doesn’t it?

        More to Help You Learn Quicker

        Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

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