Cognition and Perception

12 Ways to Reframe Setbacks as Opportunities

Speaking at the convocation of the United Negro College Fund in Indianapolis in 1959, John F. Kennedy said, “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters – one represents danger, and one represents opportunity.”

From a purely linguistic perspective, Kennedy was wrong about what those particular Chinese characters actually represent.

JFK wasn’t the first to make this mistake, and many others have made it since. The trope has been repeated by journalists, bloggers, motivational speakers, and politicians for decades.

Use Your Beginner’s Mind to Open Your Prepared Mind

In 1973, 27-year-old Vernon Hill decided to start a bank. He launched a single, nine-employee branch on a highway in southern New Jersey. Vernon didn’t call it a “bank” or a “branch,” though. He called it a “store.”

Although he had worked afternoons at a bank while an undergrad at Penn’s Wharton School, Hill’s professional experience was primarily in real estate and fast-food retail. He scouted and developed sites for chains such as McDonald’s, CVS, and Jiffy Lube, and had an ownership stake in dozens of Burger King restaurants.

As a relatively inexperienced newcomer to the world of banking, though, Hill was able to cast aside many of the preconceptions people had about how banking ought to be done.

SCAMPER Toward More Creative and Innovative Thinking

In the 1930s, one of Linus Pauling’s graduate students asked Dr. Pauling how he managed to have so many good ideas.

Pauling replied that he just had a lot of ideas, then threw away the bad ones.

Really, Pauling would later explain when recounting this exchange, having good ideas is just a matter of having a large number of ideas, and then applying some selection principle to the whole lot so that the only ideas left are good ones.

Well, sure, that’s easy for Linus Pauling to say.

Cognition, Opportunity, and Learning a New Language

English has a wider global reach than any language in history.

It has become the world’s lingua franca in a range of domains, including business, politics, science, technology, academia, and entertainment.

On top of that, real-time language translation technology continues to get faster and more accurate.

Why, then, would a native English speaker in today’s world want or need to learn another language?

Fast and Frugal Heuristics for Making Decisions Under Uncertainty

We all make decisions every day, usually a lot of them, some more important than others. Almost none of these choices are made under optimal decision-making conditions.

One condition that can complicate decision-making is uncertainty.

Sometimes we can’t reliably predict the results of our decisions. We can’t figure out the probable outcome. We don’t know all of the possible alternatives, and we can’t estimate the probabilities. Important information may be lacking, and a strategy that may have been optimal in the past might not work now.

Some situations may also simply be too novel to provide any useful data, so we can’t rely on probability or statistics to guide us. Any analytical approach we attempt to take to the problem will likely lead to significant prediction errors.

Uncertainty inherently involves inaccurate or incomplete information. Therefore, to make fast, accurate decisions under uncertainty, we may need to rely on cognitive strategies that deliberately ignore some information.

Scroll to Top