I was recently turned on to the Squeezing the Orange Podcast from a LinkedIn post by Francesca Gino, a Harvard Business School Professor and Best-Selling Author. BTW, if you don’t follow Francesca, please do so today. The Squeezing the Orange Podcast is hosted by Professor Dan Cable and comedian Akin Omobitan, where they spend about a half-hour each episode “funpacking” peer-reviewed and published social science papers. To date, they have 65 episodes out in the world.
The particular episode I want to talk about this week is called: “Is It More Helpful To Count Your Blessings Or Your Barriers?” In the episode, Dan and Akin discuss things in our life that tend to hold us back, more specifically, how we pay attention to certain things over others.
The episode is based upon a Research Paper: “The Headwinds/Tailwinds Asymmetry: An Availability Bias in Assessments of Barriers and Blessings” by Shai Davidai and Thomas Gilovich. The authors use the analogy of headwinds and tailwinds to describe the advantages and disadvantages we interpret as human beings and how we often focus on our barriers or issues, rather than our blessings.
Dan and Akin analyze and summarize this paper beautifully in the episode. They discussed when facing a headwind – using the example of riding a bike uphill, our minds continue to focus on the barriers or items holding us back. Yet, when we have that tailwind – using the example of riding the bike with the wind behind you, we don’t recognize or notice the help we are receiving. We disproportionately focus more on the headwinds or barriers, rather than the tailwinds or help we receive.
They spend time talking about how our brains are wired with certain biases, such as the headwind and tailwind analogy, but how we have the power to change this. Our minds are a beautiful thing when in the right space or in the right mindset. You appreciate things more. You can recognize your tailwinds. When you’re in the wrong frame of mind however, you focus on the negative, the barriers, the headwinds. And if you don’t get out of that space, you can spiral rather quickly.
For almost forty years, I owned real estate in that headwind and negative space. I let barriers control me and dictate every minute of my day. So much that I lost the ability to truly appreciate the great things I had in life, or my tailwinds. For years the headwinds kept me up at night. I thought about them during breakfast or a work meeting or when I tried to go to bed. They consumed me. I felt as if these headwinds were only happening to me. This is the point Dan and Akin were driving home in the podcast and is something I’ve documented over the past few months in my blog.
But for the past few years, I’ve worked hard at changing that mindset and challenging that bias internally. Today, as I write this blog, I’ve learned to turn that dial, even if it’s just a little bit towards the positive. I’m so thankful for the amazing things and people in my life. It’s made me realize how lucky I truly am and grateful for what I have, and finally has me living in the moment.
This past week was a perfect example of that in my personal life. I got engaged over the weekend to Lindsay – someone that I’ve written about several times in this blog. She brings so much positivity into my life. She’s done that since I’ve known her. And FINALLY this past week, I popped the question – a question I should have asked years ago. Another step towards appreciating the good in my life and rewiring my brain to capitalize on the positive and live the life I want.
Look, I’m not saying we should ignore the headwinds or barriers, but there needs to be a balance. You need to recognize what you have and leverage those skills or positive vibes to break through those barriers. Case in point, my role at ENX2.
I was hired as COO at ENX2 to improve processes and prepare the company for growth. And partnering with Nicole Farber, our CEO and Founder, we’ve done just that. We’ve rebuilt our On-Boarding Process, created an Online Ticket System to handle requests from clients, improved Intake and Contact Form processes, and most recently, formalized our in-house Target Market Analysis tool. The Target Market Analysis tool is a personal favorite of mine, as it generates demographic data that is key to zeroing in on targets and generating a better ROI for our clients. I’m a data geek.
We love to say that we mine, interpret, and leverage data at ENX2 – and it’s so true! The significance of that approach became clearer after listening to the Squeezing the Orange Podcast, and throughout my experience of building the Target Market Analysis and interacting with our clients. Yes, all of our clients face a headwind from time to time. But, as their marketing consultants, we can’t fixate on the barriers. Sure, we need to identify them, but we can’t let these issues consume us.
Instead, we must find space and time to appreciate and understand the tailwinds of our clients. Where are they successful? Why are they successful? When we dedicate time and energy to understanding these questions, we can utilize the strengths to address the barriers.
Case in point, if a law firm is seeing steady lead generation for two practice areas, yet conversion rates are off, we can’t let the lower conversation rate consume our minds or question our abilities. We must make room to analyze the practice area with the higher conversion rate, understand why, and apply those principles to the underperforming practice area. This brings me to this week’s Lessons Learned: Appreciate the Tailwinds.
Just as I’ve personally spent years rewiring my mind and challenging biases, this same principle must be applied in my professional life, in particular with our approach at ENX2. If we spend more time understanding our client’s tailwinds, it can help us attack the headwinds.
What do you think? How is your brain wired? Are you leaving enough room to appreciate the positivity in your life? Send me your comments at [email protected]ng.com. For those interested in the “Mom Watch” she did submit another comment this week, but used my personal email address. Thanks Mom 🙂
My niece Quinn Medico graduated from Wyoming Seminary two weeks ago. BTW, she’ll be moving on to play Field Hockey at LaSalle University, where coincidentally her brother also attends (playing Ice Hockey) and where Lindsay graduated from. Anyway, it made me turn the dial back to my senior year and an album that I loved: “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?” by Oasis. So good. Wonderwall is the track everyone knows, but for me, Don’t Look Back in Anger is THE track on the album. It’s on my list of top ten songs of all time. Don’t know what it is about the song, but it’s just one of those tracks that when it comes on, I’ve got the volume maxed out, screaming the chorus, and drumming my steering wheel. They never became the reincarnation of the Beatles as some thought, but they did pump out one of the best albums of the 90s.