Have you accused your parents of loving your siblings more than you? Or been convinced that a teacher was tougher on you than your classmates? Are you certain that you have to work out twice as hard as your friends to stay half as fit?
As you venture into entrepreneurship, do you find yourself feeling like you can’t catch a break, while everyone else seems to be cruising down Easy Street?
You’re not being paranoid — nor are you alone in feeling this way. In fact, earlier this year, Freakonomics Radio devoted an entire episode to people who feel that they’re living under life’s rain cloud. Psychology professors Tom Gilovich and Shai Davidai delved into this toic in recently published research, which helped explain what makes some people across all walks of life feel as if the universe is working against them. It’s a phenomenon called the headwinds/tailwinds effect.
Gilovich and Davidai revealed that it’s not always outside forces holding you back. You might be placing stumbling blocks in your own path without realizing it.
Luckily, these findings don’t tie your startup to a future of doom and gloom — quite the opposite. By learning to identify and overcome these obstacles in entrepreneurship, you can find the gratitude, confidence and focus to become a successful leader.
The science of headwinds and tailwinds
You know that feeling when you’re running against the wind? It makes everything harder; after a while, it becomes all you can focus on. But when you change direction and put the wind at your back, things get easier. Before long, you don’t even feel a breeze. That, in a nutshell, is the headwind/tailwind effect.
According to Gilovich and Davidai, when bad things in life pile on, it’s like running into the wind — they require all your energy and focus just to get through. Yet when good things happen, rarely do you linger in gratitude. You may feel appreciative for a bit; then you move on.
The headwinds/tailwinds effect has been shown to infiltrate every area of life, from sports to academia to the business world. As an entrepreneur, it’s important that you confront and overcome your personal barriers — after all, it’s not only your future on the line, but your startup’s as well.
1. Conquer the availability bias.
“Availability bias” describes the tendency to rely on information that’s readily available — typically because it’s recent, convenient to obtain, unusual or emotionally charged. But perhaps you should consider alternative possibilities.
In a 1973 Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman experiment, for example, most participants believed there were more words in the English language starting with the letter “K” than with “K” as the third letter. Actually, there are twice as many words with “K” as the third letter, but words starting with “K” are easier to recall.