The Hidden Motive Behind Inaction

What makes us refuse a favorable bet? Find out more about this hidden motive that keeps us in stillness, and how we can use it to break the status quo.
Source: Lison Mage Youtube Channel

Text from the video

Did this happen to you? 

You are at a diner and you chat with a friend, who opens up and starts complaining about something.

It sounds like: I’m kinda of done with this job. It’s just not exciting. It’s boring. It’s numbing. It’s tiring. It’s exhausting. It’s upsetting. 

And the list could go on. 

So obviously something is not working there. The situation should be addressed.

If you are close to the person, you might ask what could be done about it.

And then, something bizarre happens. The conversation becomes something along the lines of;

“Yes, I can’t stand the job, but it pays the bills.”

“Yes, my boss is childish and rarely there for me, but he has some good sides too.”

Yes, there is a problem but I accept it and rationalise why it’s acceptable.

The strangest thing might be that you will meet this same person one year later, and you will have the exact same discussion.

“Yes, the job is still draining the life out of me – but I guess that’s still better than not having one.” 

Well, that sounds like “Yes, my cat is dead and I keep the corpse, but I guess that’s still better than not having one.”

Shocking, right? But why is the first sentence any more acceptable?

The thing is that there will always be a good reason not to do something. 

That’s the way our brains are wired, to avoid pain and discomfort. 

We are unconsciously motivated to remain in our comfort zone, to remain in the status quo.

And one of the reasons found by behavioral scientists is called loss aversion. 

Basically, it means that we feel more a loss than a gain. 

For instance, if you were to bet on a flip of a fair coin and tails means you lose $10, how much would you have to win from heads to take the bet?

The basic economy theory would suggest that a tiny bit over $10 would do. 

Behavioral sciences demonstrate that, for most people, they would need to win at least $20 on heads to take the bet.

So we say that a loss mentally looms twice as much as the same-value gain.

Back to our status-quo. 

If we remain still, there is no gain, but there is no loss. Whereas with change, there might be both losses and gains. 

Let’s say you ask for a long-due promotion. Yes, there could be a gain in salary, but there is also the possibility of getting nothing, plus you put yourself in an awkward position with your direct management or even with your colleagues. There could also be a loss in social status. 

To remain “safe”, we have a tendency to avoid losses at all costs, even if it means skipping our potential gains. 

We prefer to remain in the sameness. 

And it’s hard to go against loss aversion, because it’s profoundly instilled inside us. 

So what if we were reframing the problem? What if we were looking at the cost of our inaction, that’s to say the losses we are experiencing by choosing to do nothing.

If you don’t get this promotion, because you never ask for it, what are you losing? 

What are you losing without this additional revenue? 

What are you losing for your career progression and momentum? 

With this mindset shift, we can leverage loss aversion to our benefits.

If you like this video, leave me a comment. And if you want more, follow me on my socials.

See you soon,

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Lison Mage

I help clever individuals and teams conquer overthinking and perform at their full potential. Together, we can go from a place of uncertainty and being paralyzed by doubt to gaining clarity on your current situation, where you want to go, and how to get you there!


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