I recently went back through the book Mindwise: Why We Misunderstand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want by Nicholas Epley. I read this book in June of 2014, but I think it is important to occasionally revisit books. Here are a few highlights that caught my eye a second time through:
- Arguably, your brain’s greatest skill is its ability to think about the minds of others in order to understand them better.
This is the value of empathy: thinking about the minds of others in order to understand them better. A financial advisor can be effective in a variety of ways. However, empathy is a prerequisite for any successful relationship and it is a must as it relates to working with others in a dynamic as personal as financial planning.
- When you don’t know the actual facts about yourself, your consciousness pieces together a compelling story, much in the same way it does when you’re trying to read the minds of other people to make sense of why they act as they do. Blind to the constructive processes that actually guide our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and choices, we’re left with the illusion that we know more about our own minds than we actually do.
It is important to think about the way we think; to understand our own thought processes. A certain sense of humility is required to do this. As Richard Feynman said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool.”
- Nobody waves, but almost everybody waves back. Would your life be more pleasant if you waved more often, trusting that people would wave back? Would you be happier if you engaged the minds of others more routinely instead of treating nearby neighbors as mindless objects? I encourage you to find out for yourself.
Not directly related to thinking or financial planning, but a profound observation. If you smile or wave at someone, they will almost always do so back. Not a bad idea to keep in mind.
- Others’ minds will never be an open book. The secret to understanding each other better seems to come not through an increased ability to read body language or improved perspective taking but, rather, through the hard relational work of putting people in a position where they can tell you their minds openly and honestly.
Ultimately, building a relationship takes work. The best financial advisors know this and put in the work.
To read a book and never think about it again is a mistake. Take notes and underline ideas the first time through, reflect on what you read, and periodically revisit these takeaways. Mindwise by Nicholas Epley is a solid place to start.