Question Yourself. Your Way Might Be The Dumbest Way

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My lady & I stood in line for 4 hours. For sticky cinnamon bunds, oatmeal raisin cookies, and raisin bread.

Oh, no – not for free. We paid for all that stuff.

We were at the famed (if you live in South Florida) Knaus Berry Farm, where you can pick your own strawberries during season. Yeah, you pay for those, too. In the period before the berries are ripe for picking (like early November), Knaus Berry Farm has a bakery, milkshake stand and produce counter.

The bakery line is the source of the 4-hour saga.

We got to Knaus on a Friday on which there happened to be no school. Bad idea. The line was quite long (if you follow me on Snap, you saw it). Being that Knaus is a good 45-60 minute drive from where we live, I never considered leaving – we’re here, so let’s stand and get these baked goods (sunk-cost bias).

As we stood in line, some people walked by with stuff they’d bought. Some people who were in line like us, asked the happy buyers how long they’d stood in line to get their stuff.

“4 hours.”

I couldn’t accept that estimation. The line was long, yes, but I’d been to Knaus Berry Farm before. The counter people work quickly, and there’s not that much to choose from on the menu, after all. No way we’ll be standing out here that long.

4 hours later, we walked out with a dozen sticky buns, 8 cookies, and a loaf of raisin bread.

But what happened about 10 minutes before got to the counter is what showed me how dumb my idea truly was.

Some random girl approach my lady as we stood about 10-back from the front of the line, i.e. 3h45m after getting in line. The girl asked my lady if we would buy her stuff for her, and she would just give us the money. My lady, nice as she is, did it without taxing the woman (I would’ve taxed $20, btw). The woman wanted two dozen sticky buns.

So this woman got the same thing we invested 4 hours in getting, in only 15 minutes. 

The thought never even dawned on me: walk to the front of the Knaus line and ask someone if they’d buy our stuff for us. Hell, I would’ve offered $20 extra up front to sweeten the deal.

[Why the $20 offer, when someone might be nice enough to do it for free? 1) Condition yourself to make solid investments instead of hoping and wishing for charity from others. 2) Would you invest $20 to have a 28-hour day? Exactly.]

On the ride home, I told my lady my thoughts. She seconded the idea, and asked me why I hadn’t thought of it. A revelation hit me.

Going to Knaus was my idea. I’d been there before and knew about the lines (but don’t remember them ever being that long). So I was prepared for it. Thus, I wasn’t in a mental state open to questioning myself. I mean, I knew everything to expect, after all. I then told my lady that if going to Knaus had been her idea, and we’d faced the same circumstances, I surely would’ve been scheming to improve on her plan.

Call it My-Plan Bias.

Oh, you planned it? I know I can make it better.

I planned it? Then it MUST be perfect! 

I know for sure this has happened to me before, even if I can’t pinpoint exactly when. I know, because I know how I am: I think I’m so damn smart. That “knowledge” can blind me to the flaws in my own ideas. [shareable cite=”@DreAllDay “]Your supreme ‘knowledge’ will blind you to the flaws in your plans.[/shareable]

An even worse circumstance is when the planner believes himself to be so smart, the people around him won’t speak up – even when they know something isn’t right. These are the domineering bosses, overconfident leaders, and because-I-said-so parents. My lady, in her defense, hadn’t thought of it either.

Here’s how you can work against this.

  1. Accept that you may not be an all-knowing God, after all. Check your ego. Other people are smart too. The dumbest person in the room might have the best idea for the situation at hand.
  2. Explicitly let your people know: your plans and ideas are probably not the best. Repeat after me.

    This is the way I’ve always done it, but I’m not married to it. The goal, remember, is for us to __________. If you have an idea of how we can do it better, I want to know about it.

     

  3. Look at your plans & ideas like your fiercest competitor, whose only mission is to embarrass you. Mark Cuban says, “how would I kick my own ass? How would I put me out of business?”There are several other great questions I could’ve asked myself.What if I only had 30 minutes – how would I get my sticky buns? 
    What would the Freakonomics guys do right here?  
    Where’s the shortcut in the situation? I know there is one. 

Challenge your plans. They may be really dumb. [shareable cite=”@DreAllDay “]Challenge your plans & ideas. They may be really dumb.[/shareable]

The sticky buns are GREAT, if you were wondering.

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