I recently had the chance to read an advance copy of an outstanding book by Daniel Kahneman entitled Thinking, Fast and Slow. The book will be published this fall.
Among the hundreds of interesting ideas in the book, there is one that I simply can’t get out of my head. Referring to how our minds work, Kahneman writes that not only are we sometimes “blind to the obvious,” but also we are “blind to our blindness.” For me, that one sentence summarizes a fundamental insight of his life’s work.
It’s one of those simple insights which is obvious when you think about it, but somehow incredibly easy to forget when mesmerized by the happenings of everyday life, leading to poor decision making.
Coming up with a good name for a problem is often an important part of coming up with a solution. So I’m thankful to Kahneman for planting the phrase “blind to my own blindness” in my brain. The next time I’m about to mindlessly make a terrible choice, I’m hoping that phrase will forcefully interject itself into my internal dialogue, causing me to think more clearly about my decision.
More likely, it will only be after the fact that I become aware that I was blind to my own blindness in a particular setting. At least I’ll have a succinct way of beating myself up.