Over the course of an average year, I share well over 300+ articles with you in my #swipefile. Every year, though, a few of those articles stand out in my head. I find myself referencing them over and over again, both in my work and in my life. While sometimes I realize right away an article is going to permanently shift my thinking like that (and so I immediately save it to Evernote), sometimes it’s more of a slow burn before its “Evernotability” becomes apparent.
So, much like I shared which of my 2020 posts you found most useful, I thought this week I’d share the five 2020 #swipefile posts I found most useful:
Confidence tricks: The ignorant pundit is absolutely certain; the true expert understands their own limits and how to ask the right questions I’ll admit it: I had to get past both a terrible title and a questionably relevant cover photo to read this article, but hoo boy! did I think back on this article a lot. Ultimately, it’s about the mark of true expertise (something I see in my clients over and over again): the ability (a) to discern whether or not an answer is actually knowable and (b) act accordingly. This year saw a lot of people talk like “experts” on a whole host of topics. This article helped me distinguish whom to pay attention to (or not). As I summed up recently to a friend: “Distrust anyone who doesn’t distrust themselves.”
The ROI of Thought Leadership research study My friend Susan Baier first told me about this study she was doing back in February of last year, and I couldn’t wait for it to come out. As she and her research partner say in their executive summary, “Our goals were to determine whether there are different types of thought leadership followers — whether how they feel about thought leadership is different, whether they assess qualifications for being a thought leader differently, and whether they desire different things from the thought leaders they follow.” (You can see why I was super impatient for this study to come out!!!) The short answer? Yes, there are different types of “thought leadership followers.” In fact, there are four—Trusting Followers, Jaded Skeptics, Discriminating & Engaged, and Self-described Experts—and how they evaluate “thought leaders” is often very different. The lessons here: (1) know which type your audience is and (2) make sure you’re pursuing thought leadership in the ways they acknowledge and respect. (You can hear Susan and her research partner talk about the research here.)
A former student of “growth mindset” scholar Carol Dweck has identified a new mindset for success An article title like that is pretty much catnip to me. Dweck’s framing of “fixed” and “growth” mindsets was already ground-shifting when I first read about it in her book (Mindset: The New Psychology of Success), and now there was another mindset? And this new one—the “strategic” mindset—is one Dweck herself acknowledges and approves of? Whoa. So, if you’re someone who always looks for alternative ways to get things done, especially when the first way doesn’t work out, you’ll likely love this. A bonus related article I also referenced multiple times in my work and conversations this year: The Hidden Values Driving Strategy. The authors based their “knowing vs. learning” value frame on Dweck’s work.
Private Good Deeds that Appear to Compensate for Bad Public Behavior Make People Seem Hypocritical I’ll admit this has little to do with expertise, or messaging, or presentations. It does, however, speak to my private suspicion that “you can’t keep a Red Thread down.” By that I mean: Pay attention to patterns! Both people’s (and organizations’) words and actions over time say a lot about them, as does the combination of the two. This study seems to suggest that when those two don’t match up, people get suspicious—and judgy. That’s okay, though, truly selfish people probably won’t remember they did anything selfish in the first place. Sigh.
Thoughts Into Words Every now and then I love to dig into a deep philosophical discussion about something. Even better if it’s something at the core of this work, in this case, the “paradox of articulation: are you excavating existing ideas, or do your thoughts come into being as you speak?“ Ultimately, this tension is why I do the work I do the way that I do it: through repeatedly asking my clients to articulate their idea, and by repeating back to them what I hear. For them, articulating the thought forces choice, and ultimately, clarity. When they hear it back from me, they can listen for accuracy and relevance. The magic always happens somewhere in between.
So that’s five, but like the “best of 2020” newsletter & blog posts, I want to add a bonus sixth. This last article is one that was actually published in 2019, but it was truly the article I came back to repeatedly this year. And once you read it, you’ll see why:
Is the world an exciting or a terrifying place? Your answer can powerfully shape your life and your political views, new research says This article explains a lot about the seemingly uncrossable chasms of opinions that seem to stand between us humans these days. To me, it also explains why, no matter how good your messaging or persuasion is, it likely will only ever be effective on those who share the same worldview as you. And all of it comes down to what researchers call your “primal values.” Do you, for instance, see the world as a hierarchy? Or more egalitarian? Are you more of an individualist? Or community-focused? These worldviews are so deep-seated as to be almost invisible to us… except when we come up against someone whose worldview is on the opposite end of the spectrum. They also affect how we interpret new information we come across — a very relevant update to this research I found via my favorite podcast, Curiosity Daily, which is like a #swipefile for your ears. (You can hear about the update yourself in the second story of this episode.)
Now, of course, I’m curious about which articles from last year changed the way you think? Which ones have become part of how you see the world? Email me and let me know!I thought this week I'd share the five 2020 #swipefile posts I found most useful. Click To Tweet
Please note that many of the links are affiliate links, which means if you buy a thing I link to, I get a percentage of the cost, and then donate it to charity.
Like this content? Be the first to get it delivered directly to your inbox every week (along with a lot of other great content, including my #swipefiles). Yes, please send me the Red Thread newsletter, exclusive information, and updates.