Mental Shortcuts can be Costly

As younger adults we often create mental habits and shortcuts as we are learning to be successful. However, as we develop further, it is easy to forget to evaluate those habits to see if they are still working for us. Can we become complacent and miss growth opportunities?

October 12, 2021
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Melissa Albers  0:00  
Hey everyone, you are listening to the self awareness Journey podcast. This little banner is about a car ride long and features your hosts, JJ Parker. And Melissa Albert's JJ owns a tech company. And Melissa has been a coach working with influencers for the last 18 years.

JJ Parker  0:17  
Mostly, we've been working as you know, on this new product launch. Yeah, I'm at work. And we sent a press release out yesterday announcing it? Yes. Except we weren't super coordinated on it. So the website wasn't exactly done.

Melissa Albers  0:41  
Ah, we right, you got a frog in your pocket.

JJ Parker  0:44  
Ah, and so it's cool that we did this press release. exempt. We didn't quite add everything. Thought it through or ready. Aha. And then, hours after that press release went out, we got an email from a customer asking to buy our new product. Wow, that's super cool. It is cool. Except we don't have a sales person or pricing or any other thing that would make it possible. Our awesome products.

Melissa Albers  1:23  
Oh my gosh. Is this your first rodeo? I thought we've talked this is not your

JJ Parker  1:32  
this is a funny thing. Because, right? This is like, part of my MO or something. It's like, yes, like we build stuff. Uh huh. And I And then, I don't know, we just put it out there in the world. Well, right. Just just before it's like fully baked.

Melissa Albers  1:53  
Let me just be a little more precise, if that's okay with you. And of course, I mean, all this and loads

JJ Parker  1:58  
here it.

Melissa Albers  2:00  
I think the MO is, let's get it 90% There. But when we can see the finish line, let's sit down. Let's not completely finish it. Because that last 10% is just full of details that are such boring tactical pieces. And we'll just sort that out later. Right. But it's all under the guise of creativity. It's all under the guise of Oh, it'll be fine. Just release it before it's perfect. Ah,

JJ Parker  2:31  
that is my favorite thing. I definitely like releasing things before they're done. The other thing No, no offense to the sales people. Oh, here we're listening or are also just in on the podcast. I always short circuit the sales. Yeah, I know of this whole equation. Right. Yeah. You and I've been through this before. I get zillion times. And like I always skip. I always just like gloss over the sales. Yeah, part. I know. It's an important part. Oh, do you it takes time. Really? Do. I have a have a. I have a book around here that says sales is important. Like okay, fine. All right now?

Melissa Albers  3:11  
Oh my gosh, yeah, just for the listeners sake, too. I would just like to remind everyone listening, that the half of the two halves of us, your half is operations, design, marketing, all the other stuff. My half is 100% sales. Right? So, I don't know, I might be sounding a little bitter or sarcastic about your disinterest in the sales portion.

JJ Parker  3:39  
Oh, yes. Well, this is all to say. It's like, a lot of times we do the same behavior over and over even though we like, Absolutely. No, it's not what we should be doing. Like I know, I should have had all that stuff done way ahead of time. And I know that it's important. And I know, right? I know like right now my feeling that everything is super uncoordinated and not executing well. bugs me like I don't like this feeling right now. Like I had, oh, this is the this is the great part. You love this part. Like I have to go respond to this customer with, like, who wants to buy our product? Oh, you're not gonna go? Well,

Melissa Albers  4:27  
you're the salesperson today. Wow.

JJ Parker  4:29  
Yeah. Want it? Yes or no?

Melissa Albers  4:33  
Well, how much is it? I don't know yet. Just tell you later. There's this great movie called Tin men. And it's all about sales and bad sales tactics. It's from the early 80s. And honestly, if you've been in sales or you're around salespeople, it's one of the funniest movies. It's these two guys that go door to door and they sell tin house siding, right? And it's like all the cliches of sales. So like they go to one place, knock on the door and they're like you want to buy Deciding and the guy's like, well, how much is it? And he says, Well, how much do you want it to be? And the say, and the house owner goes, How much do I want? I want it to be $1. I want it to be $1. That's what I want it to be. And the guy goes, Mr. boskie, you're not being honest with me. It's just like, oh, there actually is an art to good say.

JJ Parker  5:23  
I agree. All right. I won't beat you up on trying to like, wow, try all the salespeople. But

Melissa Albers  5:30  
try not to beat you up anymore. I can't promise anything. But let's go back to your idea that we keep redoing things. Yeah. Have we know are just not helpful for us?

JJ Parker  5:40  
Right. Like, I like I clearly, like if you were to zoom out on like, what I just did? Yes. I clearly like just navigated myself into this position. Like, it was all extremely predictable. Like, actually, I was actually like, the, our head of engineering. Ray has been on me about this very problem for like, couple of months. He's like, Hey, we're the products hitting close. It's about you know, we're gonna ship it. It's getting close. What are you doing about sales, I keep on ignoring them. And I keep this morning, like, I seriously didn't even want to log on to slack. Because I knew I was just gonna get it from him.

Melissa Albers  6:30  
Oh, my gosh, well, you know what, as much as I'm having fun torturing you, I too, have had the exact same week where I have replicated my own demise. So bad this week, like, Oh, my thing is, you know, I don't know why we do it. I honestly don't, I don't know why we continually see what things are gonna set us back. And we do them anyway, over and over and over again. So my particular brand of I don't know, whatever you want to call it. My particular brand and this conversation is that I overbooked myself. I overbooked myself, and I say yes, when I should say no. Okay, so that's a salesperson trait. That piece is a salesperson trait, right? I just think, Oh, that's okay. If I've got 85 Things booked in eight hours, I'll just figure it out. And we'll just get through it. Tomorrow will be different. And then I and then I see. Oh, actually, I did the same thing tomorrow. Oh, turns out I did that every single day this week. So I overbooked myself, and this has been something that I have done forever. Yeah,

JJ Parker  7:40  
completely. I remember like, a few months ago, you're like, completely overwhelmed. And then you're like, oh, no, JJ is getting better. Because like, you know, a couple of my clients are gonna drop off, and then I'm just gonna not replace them. And it's gonna be great. Yeah, I've been here Er,

Melissa Albers  7:53  
yeah, I took two new clients last week, not to mention the ones before. So my daughter very simply, when I now she watches me running back and forth, and back and forth, trying to use the bathroom in between calls, trying to eat a meal, when you would normally have it at lunchtime. And here I am at three o'clock or whatever. And she just looks at me says nothing and her eyebrows just go up. That's that's her way of helping me through it. Until yesterday, she brought me her computer screen. And it was an entire she had Google Image supply and demand supply and Excel spreadsheet.

JJ Parker  8:30  
Oh, she's trying to give you like an economics lesson.

Melissa Albers  8:34  
Yeah, she's got if I saw the visual of what I was actually doing, that I might make some different decisions. So she's trying to. And I'm like, No, you don't understand. This is a personality flaw. Oh my gosh. But and you know what, though, I'm so fried. By the end of the week when I do this. And I had an admin Lisa bless her heart. She tried to corral me for nine years. And she used to say, you have got to stop scheduling things in between when I schedule you, you have got to stop scheduling things back to back, you need to give yourself at least 30 minutes between like, oh, yeah, that's such a good idea. I'll do that next week. And I'm still saying the same thing years later. Why do we do these things?

JJ Parker  9:25  
Now? I don't know. That's a great question. Yeah, so it is like back again, back to like, the bigger question here is like, we do seem to repeat the same kind of behavior over and over. Yes. Yeah. And obviously, like, we're creatures of habit, right? Yeah. And habits. Actually, one of the things that, in a lot of ways allows us to get kind of a lot done or free our brains to think about things that are a bit more complicated, you know, Like, like, if you had to really think about, you know, walking, or if you really needed to think about how to brush your teeth a new every single time, that would be a

Melissa Albers  10:10  
problem. Right? That's true.

JJ Parker  10:12  
So there's all these little habits, right? Yeah. Every day. And a lot of times, when we talk about habit, it seems like we do talk about, like, small habits. Yeah. Right. But we have what I would say like, like, really big habits that play out over a period of time that we, that are in some ways, like harder to recognize, right. Like, it's easy for me to recognize the habit of me, like being hungry and going to grab a Snickers. Right? Yeah. Yeah, mid day. Right. That's, that's a fairly easy habit, it's harder to see these broader habits that maybe happen, get triggered and sort of set off and unfold over, like, a week or a month.

Melissa Albers  11:01  
Yeah. Yeah, I think a lot of this stuff also has to do with our own expectations of what it looks like to be successful. I really do, I think, you know, like the hat, the thinking habits, what you're talking about are, you know that the biological habits would be one thing, you know, like, like, for example, I have a client who was just like, exploded on the Zoom screen when I saw her. And she said, I quit smoking, Melissa, I quit smoking. And I haven't even thought about it for two weeks. And she was so excited. And that was how she described her habit as not being much of a tobacco habit as much as a physical habit of, after I have this meeting, I go outside, and when I go outside, I always smoke. Like she had the physical app. So like, that's the awareness piece, I think, like we have a lot of physical habits that we create for security, safety, consistency, like, I think there's a whole bunch of that. But it's the it's the, it's the habits that I think are formed that are the more mental habits, that the stories we tell ourselves are habitual, you know, like, the story that I tell myself, like, no, if I have six coaching hours, plus a board meeting, in one day, I will be just fine. Hmm. You know, but I tell myself that this time will be different somehow. Why is that? I mean, I think it's because I am convincing myself somehow, that I quote, should be able to, or this is, you know, this is normal, like, this is what success is? I don't I don't know, I think there's some other reasons that into that come into play when it comes to this kind of stuff. And our interaction with other people the habits that have to do with interacting with other people.

JJ Parker  12:48  
Yeah. Or I'd say I would actually maybe even for you pull that out, too. Like, a more like, part of the your driver for taking too many clients could be like, you know, simply like a scarcity thing. Like, Oh, I better get the business while I have it. Right. Lots of us. Yeah. downtrodden entrepreneurs, like, especially, like going through hard times. Like it really leaves a really Baraka leaves a deep groove of like, if we've got business, we should take it. Yeah. Right. And it's hard to turn away business. What after you've been through some, like, really low times?

Melissa Albers  13:28  
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. No, I think there may there may be something in that, too. I hadn't considered that this morning. But yeah, I'm sure that that's true. Because there have been times in my, you know, I've had the authentic leader now for 20 years. Actually, next month is 20 years, October. And I think that there have been at least three times where the business completely pivoted to something totally different. And it required me to have different clients to represent different products and services. And was really, really scary. You know, now that hasn't happened the last time that I had a real big pivot in the business was probably 11 years ago, or 10 years ago. But yeah, you're right. Because I went from making a very comfortable living to next to nothing with a lot of responsibility for almost a whole year. Employees rent you know, all this stuff. But not having the same means to bring money in and yeah, you're right. That piece must have something to do it with it. Even though that was so long ago. It must.

JJ Parker  14:36  
I don't Yeah. I don't know why that was here. Oh, you're you're overbooking. We should have other people on the podcast what? What we can diagnose their problems.

Melissa Albers  14:49  
That'd be a nice departure. Departure.

JJ Parker  14:53  
Says diagnosing our own problems. Well, the question that one of the things I liked about This conversation is just like, well, first, it's good for you. And I just reflect Yeah. On our own. Yeah. Like on our own thinking patterns and, and watching our own behaviors and helping each other that way. But I was trying to I was thinking here, like, over the past few months when I've really been, like not doing the thing I should be doing and sort of like repeating that. Yep, that same behavior. Yeah. It's interesting, because part of it is just comfortable, right? Like part of, it's just like, yeah,

Melissa Albers  15:37  
you've done many times. You don't have to think right, like, I'm

JJ Parker  15:39  
just gonna do the thing I've done and, like, I know, I'm gonna do like stepping out later. But yeah, we'll just gonna do that. And then part of it. I didn't, I do know better. And it was a little uncomfortable. So there's, there was like, yeah, yeah, mixed emotion happening. But I, I knew what I was doing. By by ignoring this part of the business wasn't. Yeah, really good. But is also just the thing that was comfortable.

Melissa Albers  16:11  
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Because you've done it a bunch of times. So you didn't have to think hard to do what you always do. Yeah, some of us just said, it feels like it's such hard work, to change, or to push through that last 10%, or whatever it is. Yeah.

JJ Parker  16:27  
And a very a self diagnose where that comes from. It's I think it's because when, when I first started the company, my my, like, my ex business partner was the salesperson. And I was always like, Southern operations, and yeah, design and technical person. So I think I just like light to throw the sales part to someone else. But there's no one over there now. It's like I threw the ball. There's no one there to catch it.

Melissa Albers  17:02  
You should stand in front of a brick wall and do that then because too quickly, the ball will come back. You just got to be watching for it, though.

JJ Parker  17:14  
But that's that's a thing, right? There's lots of times we're probably in as, as people progress in their careers. They were used to some amount of responsibility or a particular interaction or a particular scenario playing out, right. Things have changed. And we keep doing Yep. The old behavior. The old thinking, yep. But doesn't work anymore. Yeah. So how do we identify that? Before we replicated that same thing?

Melissa Albers  17:47  
Yeah. How many years? Have you had the company?

JJ Parker  17:52  
Okay, so we started like, 97. So we'd have to map that out. Like 2324.

Melissa Albers  18:00  
Yeah, yeah. Time. It is a long time. Because I think it you're, I think when you start things, like even in my practice to, you're a lot more impressionable, maybe brand new start something, the habits that you're forming are really brand new. And you're really sorry about that. very intentional. Yeah. And you practice in practice, because you don't want to screw up. You haven't you haven't proven to yourself yet that you? You're good. You're good either way.

JJ Parker  18:30  
So if you think about it, from like a career perspective, you're kind of almost saying like, we should be careful of those maybe early career experiences to make sure that they're not actually put in too big of a habit or impression on our current thinking now that we're like, farther along. Yeah. In our careers.

Melissa Albers  18:53  
Yeah, that's exactly what I'm saying. Because I think it isn't even the actual career. It's how you thought about yourself in it. You know, how you thought about what you needed to do to be successful, and how you practiced and how you were more intentional, because you hadn't done it very much yet. You know, whatever that was, whatever that was, whether it was running the business, whether it was being a salesperson, whether it was in accounting, whether it was peeing in it, you know, you had to think about things differently, so that you could sort of hone your skill. Well, then after you've had some success with that, and both of us have had success in that piece, right. And things do start to change and shift. And I do think there's an element of I hate to use the word laziness, because that doesn't sound like either one of us. But I think there's an element of mental laziness. It's easier to just keep rolling than it is to re evaluate and truly shift your thinking into something different.

JJ Parker  19:54  
Well, yeah, because because like the brain is lazy. Yeah, like the reason habits exist? are four. Yeah, they're like all mental shortcuts, right? Yes, exactly. expend the least amount of energy possible, right? Yeah. And so some of those mental shortcuts, again, like are super useful. But if we're not paying attention to which vague mental shortcuts we might be taking, we could get ourselves in some hot water.

Melissa Albers  20:20  
Exactly right. Because what we aren't considering with the mental shortcut is the emotional perspective, the the, the, the feeling perspective of a mental shortcut feels so good when it's working really, really well. But then if something on the outside or something in our reality shifts just a little bit, and we're still exercising those, those same mental shortcuts, we don't get the same payoff, it doesn't feel as good. Like, like, you were just saying, you know, with this, this example that you were talking about, it's like this, you know, this morning? How it was like, oh, no, I don't feel good. I'm just gonna, I'm gonna stay away, cuz I know Ray's really,

JJ Parker  21:01  
right, hide.

Melissa Albers  21:03  
And I have to say to that I was when I looked at my calendar this week, and I saw what I had set up for myself. And there were and I always convinced myself, well, there's about four hours worth of stuff that is different. So it's not always like this, right? Like, I convince myself that it's it No, no, it's not well, there's always four or five extra hours that are not typical. It's somehow my mental process. shortcutting said, It's okay. You'll get through it. It won't be like this tomorrow, because it really isn't your fault in your planning. Right? This isn't short sighted thinking on your part. But the truth of the matter is, is that the emotional toll of this mental shortcut is reaching a point that is very uncomfortable.

JJ Parker  21:47  
Right? For sure. Yeah. Just like, just like, I'm sure you're kind of squirm and like, make sure that your daughter doesn't see your calendar.

Melissa Albers  21:58  
She literally walked by with a Google page full of supply and demand. visuals, I think graphs,

JJ Parker  22:07  
I just like that, that you're currently living in fear of, like, bumping into her.

Melissa Albers  22:14  
Well, she's more of that operational, strong analytical brain and so darn good at it. So yeah, there's a little intimacy

JJ Parker  22:21  
we're talking about. We're talking about this, like mental shortcuts and things at work. Yeah. Um, but this happens, just like on the personal side all the time, too. When you're talking about times, when you would have been more sort of impressionable, or, or, like, certainly, like, you're more, I don't know, maybe, like, hyper aware of behaviors interactions. Like, for me, it was like, when I was kind of like, high school. Yeah, early college age is like his hyper aware of interactions. And, and, and those don't really apply. Right? Right anymore. But I still find myself like, falling into those same old thinking patterns. Interesting, even though they're not not very relevant today. Yeah.

Melissa Albers  23:15  
Yeah. Do you mean like in how you would communicate or be with people?

JJ Parker  23:19  
Oh, yeah. In our here's, here's a really simple example. Like, yeah, well, pre COVID. For work we used to, we used to throw parties. Yeah. Got like, customer parties, for sure. Mm hmm. And that was our eyes. I was like, hey, gotta work example. So here's a work example. No, yeah, we used to, like hosts these customer parties. Right. And they're there. They're amazing. And like, tons of people would show up and but every single time, like, an hour before those parties, I've like, no one showing up. No one's coming to my party. You know what I mean? We just get so yeah. Like, I felt like I was in high school. Like, it was just like, yeah, like, and it was like, years and years and over and over and over and over every single time. Hmm. Yeah. I mean, but then like, then the party would start and like, it'd be fine. Hundreds or 1000s of people would show up. I mean, this was just like, huge events. And But why, you know, like, why would I get so anxious that no one was going to show up to my party, right? I don't

Melissa Albers  24:31  
know. It's a mental shortcut. It's just the way that you've always thought, yeah, boom, you're in the situation again, and you thought it again, I can give you another example. So last night, my dad regaled ours, his name was inducted into the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame, which is a really big deal for the fishing culture in the state. And it was a pretty big event. And there are a lot of people going now we haven't been going to events because of COVID Right. So the mental shortcut is, oh, this is an event, no problem. We'll go, we'll be socializing, we'll leave, everything will be great, right. But the mental shortcut is not paying attention to the emotional challenge of not only are we in a different reality right now, because people have been getting sick. We also haven't been with people for a really long time. So the emotional stamina that it would take somebody and it does take somebody, even someone like me who's highly extroverted, the emotional stamina to be with a big group of people for hours after is like, that was huge. Like, I was exhausted afterwards. It was all good. It was all great. It was all fun. It was super awesome to be there. And yet, the mental shortcut I made was, oh, this is just an event. It's two and a half hours, we'll be on our merry way afterwards. Again, not even paying attention to the emotional pieces that are part of that experience. So yeah, I think we just do I think we do this, we we just aren't very aware of those how those two things intersect, you know, again, and again and again.

JJ Parker  26:15  
Well, this is good. I'm gonna I like I like I like how this ended up getting phrase this like mental shortcuts thing? Yes, me too. Because we all I think we can all really think about what mental shortcuts were taking,

Melissa Albers  26:34  
and how much they actually cost. Yo, they're not that short, and they're very costly. We hope that you've enjoyed today's episode. Our mission is to help people become happier and more effective by gaining insight into their own thoughts and feelings. We love your support. First, share this podcast with anyone you think might enjoy it. Second, leave us a rating or review on your favorite podcast site. This helps others discover the podcast so we can reach more people. Third, sign up for our newsletter at the self awareness journey.com. This will help us communicate better with you and build our community. Thank you so much for joining us in the self awareness journey. We'll see you next week.

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Discussed in this episode

Let's get real

Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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