Is Incompetence a Form of Dishonesty? (NSQ Ep. 6)

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Also: should we all have personal mission statements?

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Relevant References & Research

Question #1: Is it immoral to slack off at work when others are depending on you to do a good job?

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Question #2: How valuable is it to have a personal mission statement?

  • Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang was indeed a Cutco knife salesman. Yang shares this story in Freakonomics Radio Ep. 362, “Why Is This Man Running for President?
  • Stephen and Angela discuss Google’s unofficial motto, “don’t be evil.” The phrase was written into the company’s corporate code of conduct in 2000. In 2015, when Google reorganized under Alphabet, their motto changed from “don’t be evil” to “do the right thing.” However, “don’t be evil” remained a part of their code of conduct until 2018, when all references to the motto were removed, except for one — the very last line.
  • Stephen says that he and Steven Levitt examine the problem with relying on a “moral compass” in their 2014 book Think Like a Freak — the section he’s referring to is part of chapter two, “The Three Hardest Words in the English Language.”

Angela discusses the difference between “approach motivation” and “avoidance motivation,” and she says that Stephen’s top-level goal — “every day, try to suck a little bit less” — is a form of avoidance motivation. To learn more about these differing perspectives on achievement, check out the research of psychologist Andrew Elliot.