3 Ways to Trick Ourselves to do What We Hold Most Important

One thing that I have understood very clearly after reading the research from various behavioural scientist is that, we as a race still haven’t developed the ability to decide when presented with complex choices.

Another insight that i have from this body of work is that it is easier to hack our environment, thereby hacking our behaviour than directly attempting to hack or modify our behaviour.

Our ancestors intuitively understood a lot of these phenomenon and created cultures full of ceremonies and rituals. Ceremonies and rituals that allow us to do what is good for the group and for ourselves.

So, when it comes to organisations that want to grow and grow significantly, they can use some of these insights to bring their employees together and create a culture of high performance.

A few such behaviours that they can design to encourage high employee engagement and performance are:

The Power of a Nemesis:

Nothing unites people like going after a common enemy. This is a social phenomena which is older than hundreds or even thousands of years. So, find your nemesis. It could be your biggest competitor (Apple vs Google or SAP vs Oracle or Coke vs Pepsi) or could be an imaginary one. It could even be a different version of  themselves (We never want to be like them!!!!).

As long as you have a nemesis that all of you want to go after, you will have cohesion and engagement and high performance. If you have conquered your nemesis, create a new one.

The Power of  Rituals or Ceremonies:

We have evolved with rituals and ceremonies surrounding us all the time. These create a sense of belonging. Some of them also help us release adrenalin and oxytocin, which further increase trust amongst the team. These could be very simple stuff and needs to be done on an ongoing basis. Some examples of these rituals could be:

  1.  as having a team dinner every Friday evening or
  2. ringing a bell every time you win a deal in a competitive situation or
  3. having a simple Hi-Fi done every time you finish a face-to-face meeting or
  4. starting every meeting with a 30 sec silence or
  5. Starting every project with a specific act..

The Power of Social Pressure:

As a race, we value social recognition and validation more than anything else. So, if we really want to achieve something and find that self-motivation is lacking, we can use this insight. Just go ahead and publicly announce that we intend to do something. It is better to announce that we will do something rather than achieve something, or else, you will do something else. For example, I will walk 10000 steps a day or pay X amount to a charity or pay for a party where all my friends are invited but I am not.

Once you have done this, you will have much more motivation to go for the walks than otherwise because now your friends will hold you accountable to your goal and we don’t want to lose face amongst our friends.

This is even more prominent if you are going leverage your basic acquaintances to hold you accountable.


These are just three of many more mechanisms that we can use to trick ourselves do things that are important to us but somehow we never come around to doing them.