Dec 252007

Main Points:

  • You assume other people are like you.
  • Anything another person with your abilities can do, you can, too.

This is an add-on to the Principle of People Equivalence which says, “Other people are like you.”

How often have you been talking to someone and they described something amazing and you said, “Wow, I could never do that.” I believe that the reason you might say that is because you start to assume that other people are like you and thus would do the things that you would do, except they don’t, and that shocks you a little bit.

Another important implication of this is that we tend to project our feelings onto other people, a lot. Steve Pavlina talks about it in a blog post called Understanding Human Relationships. Simple enough concept: If I complain that you don’t keep your room clean, I am projecting my standards of cleanliness onto you and expecting my own behaviour of you. However, I’m usually able to make peace with you not keeping your room clean, as well as with myself.

Here’s yet another add-on: Anything another person with your abilities (and I mean physical abilities, really, the rest only in extreme cases) can do, you can, too.  So, playing in the NBA would be very difficult (though not impossible) if you’re 5’4, however you’re almost an exact copy of someone like Warren Buffett or Bill Gates. So, what’s to stop you from having billions of dollars (or however you measure success)? The way you think.

Clearly people who are successful in most fields tend to think differently than people who are not, and thus take different actions and get different results. Ah, but that’s a whole other rabbit hole. Just take a little vacation and enjoy the holidays!

Dec 072007

Main Point:

  • Principle of People Equivalence: “Other people are like you.”
  • Implications of this principle: most people have very similar fears and reactions as you do; most people don’t think about you as much as you think they do.
  • So: Don’t be afraid of strangers, because you’re a stranger to them and most people in general are nice people. Don’t be afraid of make a fool of yourself, because no body cares enough about you to think about you very much at all.

The principle of people equivalence is one of my favourite principles for understanding and interacting with other people. It essentially says, “Other people are like very much like you.” That may not come as a big surprise at first blush, but I’d like you to think about the implications of it.

Implication 1:

Many people have very similar fears and reactions as you do. The steady and fairly homogenus diet of mass media that we have all been on since we were born or children has created a society that thinks pretty damn similarly. Most people are ridiculously similar. Many people fear talking to strangers, even though those strangers also fear talking to strangers, which in this case is YOU.

Implication 2:

Most people don’t really think about you as much as you think they do, pretty much no matter what you do. Afraid of making a complete fool of yourself? Its not the complete fool part that scares you, its the idea that you wouldn’t be able to handle the negative criticism if someone saw you.  If you had to do something strange like strut around tall and high and yell like Tarzan, but I could garuntee that no one would hear you or see you (say you were in space in a box), I think you’d be a lot more comfortable with it than if you were in the middle of Times Square in New York.

So, what’s the equivalence principle here? Think about the last time someone made a complete fool of them around you. How long did you think about it? If it was a just a random stranger on the street? Even if it was a close friend, how often do you think about it? I’ve made a complete fool of myself and I’ve seen people make complete fools of themselves but I really don’t remember it or think about it.

Get off your high horse, no body cares about you as much as you think they do. :p

Seriously though, what do you spend most of your time thinking about? I’m willing to wager you mostly think about you or things related to you. You probably spend very little time thinking about other people.