Monday Musings 6 September: Are you on my wavelength?

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Buckle up control freaks. Word on the street is that it is the natural tendency of things to lose order, yep unravel.  

Nothing stays the same without a little maintenance. Gardens get overrun with weeds. Unoiled wheels get squeaky. Things begin to sag. Bingo wings anyone?  

None of these things on their own would normally push us over the edge, well perhaps with the exception of the bingo wings. But you’d be forgiven if you’ve spiralled just a little bit out of control with the rapid, abrupt and pervasive disorder we’ve all experienced these past 18 months. Unravel? Hmph! Try spectacularly collapsed. 

Did you know, however, a little chaos is actually good for us. 

It is another universal truth that the brain likes novelty. Too much of it though is exhausting which admittedly is why we’re a little less than thrilled about the changing goal posts. And so we lean on things like mental models to help us understand the world a little better and keep a cool head. 

So what’s a mental model? 

You use them every day, but you probably didn’t realise they’re part of a suite of representations to explain how something works. Farnam Street has this rather delightful summary: “(Mental models) are how we simplify complexity, why we consider some things more relevant than others, and how we reason. Using them increases your clarity of understanding, providing direction for the choices you need to make and the options you want to keep open.” 

Washed your car this weekend just before it rained? Murphy’s Law. Rather play with your pet hamster than finish that work assignment? Procrastination. Only tune into news that confirms your opinion on whether you should be vaxxed, or not? Cognitive bias.  

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My favourite Mental Model is Parkinson’s Law, which describes your tendency to work faster, smarter, or simply prioritise effectively when you impose a shorter deadline.  I’ll admit that my passion for Parkinson drives our team nuts but I use this mental model almost daily to tackle my own perfectionism and procrastination by introducing phantom deadlines for each of the three main tasks I need to get done in the day – I list them upfront before I get the day started. Yes, I’m a nerd. 

And that’s what made me think that there’s power in these mental models we probably aren’t harnessing enough to help us get through this spectacular collapse I’ve just mentioned.  

Take heart… Apparently, the world’s most successful people aren’t any smarter than the rest of us mere mortals. Instead, they’ve simply learned to apply better mental models of how the world works, and they use these principles to filter their thoughts, decisions, strategies and execution.  

Michael Simmons, who clearly has a lot of time on his hands, has collected over 640 mental models and put together this incredible infographic so perhaps that’s your port of call before you get your week going (you’re welcome, procrastinators). These are synthesised into the most useful and universal mental models that people should learn to master first.  

Gazing over his 640 models, I believe an important one that Simmons appears to have left off his nifty infographic in these uncertain times is: ‘being on the same wavelength’. If communication is a single act performed by two brains and our starved social selves are craving human connection, exercising our wavelength muscles seems like a good way to start restoring order to the world. Let’s start today…    

Remember to be kind, humans.

Mindful Musings

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Marketing Musings

Now that we have mental models on our mind, these are a useful way to explain how people all over the world are leaning on their cognitive biases to talk about what’s become a rather hot potato – especially with the announcement by Discovery and other companies that they will be instituting a mandatory vaccination policy for their employees.  

The same mental models are being used in marketing to discourage and encourage people to get vaccinated. In the case of anti-vaccination movements, they use a mental model based on negative emotions. Pro-vaccination movements conversely use images of smiling people to induce positive feelings towards vaccination.  

Yes people, I’m afraid we’re hard-wired. And clever marketers know how to tug on our heartstrings. Some of the best ones I’ve seen recently: 

Heineken wants us to party… 

Google wants us to get back to what we love…

Qantas wants us to travel… 

Even Elton John wants us to get jabbed…

What the world was musing over this week

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Time to let your hair down 

We’ve added a second lot of social media tiles for you to download, in addition to the English, French, German, Spanish and Italian tiles that our tourism friends can use for free with the hashtag #SouthAfricaIsTravelReady. 

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Snap happy 

The 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photographer Awards have just announced their finalists and there’s everything from an ecstatic blue-eyed bug to racoons living their best level 5 lockdown life. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face. 

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Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! Cape Town 

Much to the delight of ABBA fans, the enduring Swedish pop group has put Cape Town as a stop in its reunion tour.  Time to break out those super trooper boots and sequinned bell bottoms, for the night of your life.

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Blooming wonderful   

Push off winter, September marks spring and didn’t you know it the Western Cape flowers are out in full force – a blaze of whites, yellows, oranges, pinks, purples, you name it for as far as the eye can see. Time for a Sho’t Left? 

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It’s not our variant 

And of course the mass panic that hit media this week when South Africa’s clever scientists discovered another variant – this one doesn’t even have a Greek letter, but that didn’t stop the hysteria. Newsflash people, it’s not our variant.