The Do / Say Something Syndrome [Mental Model]

Today I’m introducing something new!  Mental Mondays.  This is where I go to a mental model that can help improve your view on the world.  

I stumbled upon mental models when I read a fantastic book called Poor Charlie’s Almanac.  Charlie Munger is Warren Buffett’s right-hand man and is probably one of the smartest guys alive.

Like him, I believe those who have a wide range of viewpoints, what he calls Mental Models, gives you a clearer vision of the world.

That’s why I wanted to start Mental Monday.  I’m going to present an easy and digestible mental model at the beginning of each week for you to start viewing the world through that lens.  Experiment with it, play with it, and if it helps you keep it, if not, discard it and move on to the next one.

Ok let’s jump into this week’s mental model: The Do/Say Something Syndrome.

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Let’s start with a little story of Harry the Honeybee…

Harry leaves the nest one morning in search of the sweetest California wildflower nectar.  After finding some he’s excited about, he heads back to the nest to tell his friends.

He gives a little dance to communicate where those flowers are located and they all band together and heads back out.

Well, a scientist decided to do an experiment…he transplanted those wildflowers way into the sky, where it’s not natural for wildflowers to be…

Harry and his crew get to the original spot and can’t find the wildflowers…everyone is looking at Harry like what the fuck…but Harry in his genetics has no idea how to communicate what has happened.

So they all fly back to the hive and you’d think Harry would just go off into the corner and hide his embarrassment from his fellow bees…but nooo…he does something even worse, he starts bullshitting a dance trying to communicate what happened, leaving everyone even more confused.

Well, that’s what Munger says he’s dealt with humans all his life.  This Say-Something Syndrome is a major source of development and organizational confusion.

So how should we be thinking about the Say Something Syndrome?

Don’t confuse activity with results.

It seems most of us tend to believe that doing or saying more will get us better results.  But that’s not always true.

How many meetings have you been in where there are only one or two competent people who should be speaking, but it seems like everyone has to get their say in. What a waste of everyone’s time, just to entertain a person’s unnecessary bias so they feel like they contributed or added something special.

It’s ok not contributing if you won’t add much value.  Your value comes in not wasting other people’s time.  You’ll be able to contribute and add value in due time.

Even Munger, a billionaire with millions of people that look up to him, knows when he has something valuable to say and when he doesn’t.  During meetings, if he has nothing of value to add, he legitimately says, “I have nothing to add.”  Try it.  

For the Mental Monday Nugget to chew on: Try experimenting with this concept this week.

To safeguard yourself from the Do / Say Something Syndrome, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Will expressing myself here help further the desired result? If you don’t know why you’re talking, you’re probably not being thoughtful.
  2. Am I qualified to take action or voice my opinion? I’m not saying you should silence yourself, but just be confident in yourself to know when you open your mouth it matters.
  3. Is the best course of action doing nothing at all?  It blows my mind how being busy seems to distract us from being with our thoughts.  It’s ok to do nothing at times…at the very least it’ll keep you from doing something harmful.

Well, I hoped you liked the first installment of Mental Mondays. I’ll be doing this each week until I run out of mental models, but there are so many, this might take awhile.

In the show notes, I’ve linked the video of my favorite Charlie Munger speech where he goes over a few mental models.  Definitely worth checking out if you have an hour.

Be sure to tune in later in the week for the Weekend Book Short, where I deconstruct the essence of a book, so you can apply it to your life.

Lastly, I know you’re busy, but if you have a few seconds today, please help this podcast get the word out by throwing up a review and rating on iTunes or whichever platform you’re using.

Until next time…Keep thinking.

Want to learn about how bee’s communicate?  Check out this link:
http://www.biology-pages.info/B/BeeDances.html#Direction

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