Cognitive dissonance in business – "Killer Idea" or "Idea Killer"?
Cognitive Dissonance is a term used to describe that feeling of discomfort when you have conflicting beliefs.
Examples of cognitive dissonance: when you wants to start a business.
a. You give up your day job and commit to your idea wholeheartedly. Why? Maybe you believe in the opportunity and you are willing to accept the delayed reward (equity and/or freedom). Once you make that decision, you will continue to justify that decision and accept the discomfort/challenges of a start-up. The “break-through” is just around the corner…You select certain facts and data to rationalize that decision. The truth is, you have no idea whether it will succeed or not. There are just too many variables. More business fail than succeed and new ones are started each day.
b. On the other hand, you may decide not to leave your job to start that business. Your decision to keep the status quo might be perceived as a “safe” one. Once that decision is made, you will start justifying it as well. In fact each time you get a paycheck, that decision is reinforced. You see statistics that show well over half of start-ups fail in the first year. The reality is, that may or may not be the case for you. Companies do go out of business, they have salary cuts, lay-offs, mergers/acquisitions, and have positions replaced (by younger employees/outsourced/off-shored) etc.
We’ve all met that guy who never started any business but boy, does he have a ton of ideas…many that have become successfully launched by other companies <insert the eye roll here>.
In order to resolve that conflict, you need to make a decision. That will largely eliminated that discomfort and you can start justifying the decision with data, experiences, and circumstances. The key is what will gets your emotions to that “tipping point”. It might be experience, know-how, money, or overcoming certain fears. You can either find ways to remove those obstacles or you can use those obstacles to justify your decision or lack thereof.
So, DECIDE already! (insert smiley here). There’s an Aesop fable about “Sour Grapes”…to help avoid/deal with cognitive dissonance. So if you have that killer idea but never had the guts to take the leap, you can tell yourself most companies (about 94%) never make it past 10 years. Or you can take that dreaded leap and find out who can help you develop a plan, work the plan, be flexible, persistent, work hard, stay positive, and take the chance…of succeeding.
ps: The book really didn’t have anything to do with business, startups etc. It is about the decisions we make (emotionally) and our justification…and as someone who enjoys working with start-ups and have had a few start-ups of my one, it was an interesting topic.