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Wealth Insight 2009-08-07

When instinct seems to fail
Last week I gave you an example of when instinct saves the day. How people who stay connected to their inner voice of truth so often get it right. But sometimes split-second decision-making goes wrong. How can that be?
Example 2: Let’s look at the next example. The movie Crash is a very thoughtful movie, building on Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing.
The point is to show that racism is complex. It makes people who do not think of themselves as racists, think again. It is about questioning how we think and how we act. In Crash, a white cop giving a young black man a lift through an isolated canyon at night shoots him because he thinks he’s pulling a gun out of his pocket. What actually happens is that the black man sees a little statue of a saint on the cop’s dashboard. He carries an identical one around himself. He pulls it out of his pocket to show the cop. Who tragically misunderstands his actions.
This cop is not a racist. He has already proven himself to be someone who thinks about what he does. Someone who fights racism. He just makes a terrible mistake. But the statistics will tell you that if it’s a black man on the receiving end of a misunderstanding like this, he’s much more likely to get shot than a white man. Even when the cop is not a racist.
So what goes wrong with this kind of split second thinking?
Research tells us that when we are in an extreme situation and things happen really fast, we fall back on stereotyped behavior, even when we do not believe the stereotype or agree with it!
The stereotype in this example is that young black men are dangerous. And the cop automatically reacts accordingly, and shoots.
Thousands of messages like this reach us from childhood onwards, via the media, education, and the people we know. We are surrounded by incomplete and misleading messages of these kinds, called stereotypes. They affect our judgement. Often when it matters the most.
What does this have to do with Wealth Creation?
Not all rushed decisions involve danger. Some are just plain rushed. With the queue piling up behind us, we grab something from the ‘cattle chute’ – the winding aisle packed with sweets and magazines that we are herded through on the way to the supermarket tills. It’s always something we didn’t plan to buy. It’s called buying on impulse. And the shop is designed to get us to buy as much as possible that way. They have planned to take advantage of our impulsive behavior when we are put under pressure.
But that’s not even a terribly important example. What about a salesman pressuring us to buy a ‘bargain’ property or a retirement policy? If we are not educated in that area, we fall back on stereotypes. Which means, we go back to what society has conditioned us to think.
What have we been conditioned to think about investing?
We’ve been conditioned to think “It takes money to make money”.
We’ve been conditioned to think “It’s irresponsible to make your own financial decisions; you should rely on the experts”.
We’ve been conditioned to think “The blue chip companies have been around for many years, they are trustworthy, reliable, honest, and they have our best interests at heart”.
We’ve been conditioned to think “Banks give you guaranteed growth, they are failsafe”.
As a result we make bad decisions that destroy wealth.
The solution? First and foremost, slow it down. Get some breathing space. Take time out. If you are being rushed, you’re being herded towards a bad decision.
A few minutes’ thought will de-couple you from the stereotyped response that parts you from your money. So long as you have educated yourself first on the alternatives!
Wealth Creation means freedom. To become free you need to make your own decisions. To make good decisions, you need to know how your brain works. Then you can use the information to make good investment and business choices.
A very important part of this education includes knowing how marketers use this information against you. They know how the brain works, and how your rational mind can be confokulated through faked information. They also know how to get you to make impulse decisions. But if you know how your own mind works, you can protect yourself from bad decisions, avoid this manipulation, and make great decisions in every aspect of your life!
The lesson?
First, educate yourself. If you are not educated in an area, you fall back on stereotypes. Which means, you go back to what society has conditioned you to think.
Don’t mistrust your instincts, but be aware that if you are being rushed, your instincts are getting messed up. Slow it down, refuse to be pressured. Two things I have learned during my career as a Wealth Creator: there is no offer so great it will not keep a bit longer – and rather miss out than make an investment mistake.
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To your wealth, health and success!

Hannes Dreyer
Wealth Mentor
 

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