You must be both quite happy that this semester is finally ending and anxiously busy preparing for your exams. As in the past, this will be my last Friday email of this semester. I meant to finish the semester by sharing one more point from the book by Adam Grant. But then, the COP28 is open yesterday. So, I decide to talk about both.
First is about “Think Again” from Adam Grant. Remember I shared about confidence versus competence three weeks ago? It turns out that many competent people do not believe they are capable. Adam Grant introduced the “imposter syndrome”. Studies found that people who are self-identified as impostors turn out to be more empathetic, respectful and professional. They are more effective in asking questions and sharing information, and in more caring and friendly ways. So, if you think you are not good enough in some tasks, think again. Are you really not good enough? If so, learn and improve yourselves. But please also consider whether it is more likely that you are just having impostor syndrome.
Second, about COP28. I hope you can do a quick search about what COP28 is. The Paris Agreement was adopted at the COP21 held in 2015 with which many countries agreed to cooperate to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, and reaching net zero by 2050. This means cutting greenhouse gases by 25% to 50% by 2030 compared to greenhouse gas emission in 2019. However, the latest estimate is a meager 11% by 2030. Ironically, several countries that are technologically advanced and wealthy enough to help reduce carbon emission are exactly the ones that contribute the most emission. Those small and less developed countries, particularly those surrounded by waters, contributed minimal greenhouse gas, but are most prone to significant impact from climate change.
Lastly, I hope you will excel in your examinations, and then have really nice and fun rest in the Christmas and New Year break! So, an early season’s greetings: Merry Christmas!!
Talk to you again next year!
Let’s go back to the book by Adam Grant called Think Again. My sharing today as about four groups of professionals: preachers, politicians, prosecutors, and scientists. Adam Grant mentioned that this idea was from his colleague Phil Tetlock.
How are these professions to do with you? Each of us will be one of these four, especially the first three, at different times. When what you always strongly believe in is being challenged, what will you do? Preach! What about when you spot flaws in other people’s argument or reasoning? You prosecute! You establish arguments to prove that they are wrong. What if you want to win others’ belief and/or trust? You become a politician. You lobby until people believe in you or stand by your thoughts. What do scientists do then? Consider the above three groups. Preachers and politicians always want to reach their goals without urging for evidence. Prosecutors work on evidence, but often attack the other side. Scientists on the other hand always require experiments in order to reach some objective outcomes and implications.
The message here is that everyone can be in one of the above modes. But to be right, you probably should consider being scientists when you want to start preaching, prosecuting, or lobbying. Think again!
If you do not get my message, please feel free to write to me. If you do, or you think you do, please think more, and observe you and people around you to see if you can tell when they (or you) are preachers, politicians, and prosecutors. How often are you scientists?
What do you think the title of this email is about? As you have already become members of HC, I would like to remind you of the goals of joining HC. Our mission is
To nurture high flying students into globally competitive leaders and intellectual achievers committed to collaborative and creative thinking for Macao and beyond
You do not become global leaders and intellectual achievers automatically by being HCers. Exactly for this reason, we have tried our best to organize seminars and activities that could help open your minds to be global citizens who commit. For instance, on Wednesday, we organized this year’s Honours Forum in which Prof. Luciano Rila of University College London (UCL) spoke about “Paying Forward: Nurturing Inclusive Environments In STEM for a New Generation LGBTQ+ Scientists”.
Are you even aware of such an event? The Honours Forum is supposed to be one of the more important seminars. Why LGBTO+? Why STEM scientist? As high flying students, and future global leaders and intellectual achievers, you are expected to know about a wide range of subjects and topics. I am very disappointed that, despite having over 350 HCers in total, I only see 10% of you here at the Forum. Do you think you know a lot already? Enough to represent outstanding high-flyers! NO!!! Overconfident people tend to think the values of a lot of opportunities are too trivial for them, and wasting their time. If you think so, the chance of you becoming high-flyers will be smaller. Remember, you don’t know what you don’t know!
Even worse is when you have signed up to come, and then not coming at all. This is the same as breaking a promise. Outstanding and successful people will not break promises, whether big or small. But guess what, the worst are those who came and sat for only a few minutes before deciding that they did not want to “waste more time” and left. This is utterly bad for any responsible person. This is disgraceful and disrespectful to the speaker!
As you are already HCers, I hope you can show me you are worth being treasured as HCers! You have choices. But once chosen, please honour your choices. Behave as real HCers, please!
Greetings from Budapest! I am here for a conference, and finally had a chance to start this highly anticipated book on the plane. “Think Again” is written by Adam Grant (published in 2021), the famous organizational psychologist at the Wharton School. It is really a page turner. The first point I would like to share is the following on page 37:
“In theory, confidence and competence go hand in hand. In practice, they often diverge. … In a meta-analysis of ninety-five studies involving over a hundred thousand people, women typically underestimated their leadership skills, while men overestimated their skills.”
Basically, what he meant is that some people tend to have confidence but not competence, while others are the other way round. He added that being on the extremes of confidence (i.e. having either too much or too little) left people reluctant to rethink their plans. The ideal level of confidence probably lies somewhere in between.
I am aware that I have talked about overconfidence in the past. But I am sort of repeating it here in the hope of both reminding you and trying to pave a way for my mails in the coming weeks about the ideas from this book.
Hope you have a chance to enjoy the book which even Bill Gates recommended.
Have you ever found your classmates or teammates very frustrating when doing group projects? I recently came across an article from the Inspiring Minds series of the Harvard Business Publishing Education related to this question. I hope you could reduce your frustration after reading the following summarized version of the article. Basically, you can use the following checklist to see if you have balanced your own accountability with compassion.
- Have you been clear about your expectations? Have everyone been clear? Do you and your peers really understand each other’s expectations?
- Are your expectations reasonable? For example, is the workload and/or deadline fair? Has everyone been outspoken about the potential difficulties?
- Are you really focusing on the ultimate goal or outcome? You should not focus on how others’ work is done. Remember, autonomy is important for everyone. What you should do is to focus on your part, with the aim that all team members contribute and collaborate towards achieving the same goal and outcome.
- Do you know your peers well? Are you truly aware of their knowledge, strength, skills, and personalities?
- Are you biased on your peers? That is, do you give favor to one, but treat others less well?
- Are your feedbacks and suggestions clear, firm and kind? Criticisms are never easy to digest. Constructive comments on the other hand can be really constructive.
Please do not forget, even if you are very intelligent, you are just one of the millions of intelligent people on earth. And who is to say your peers are less intelligent? Please, never be too confident of yourself. We Chinese have a saying, with word-by-word translation as, “There is always a mountain higher than the previous!”
Before being a good leader, you should be an excellent teammate first!
Have a great weekend!
As our second Friday email, I would like to talk about something trendy – Chat GPT!
Christian Terwiesch, a Wharton professor (Wharton means Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania, which, of course, is a very good university), recently asked ChatGPT to come up with some product ideas. It turns out that ChatGPT was able to not only generate better ideas than his students, but faster and cheaper!!! Scared??? The question asked is, “Is ChatGPT a Better Entrepreneur than Most?”, which is the title of a recent article from Wharton.
But beyond being entrepreneur, a more serious issue is that AI seems to be equally creative, if not better. There have been a lot of discussions recently about what jobs AI could replace, and the general agreement is about those repetitive ones, and those that require accuracy and reasoning, but not those that need more creativity and human touch. This experiment above shows that creativity is not a weak spot for AI at all. So, what should human do? Avoid AI to keep our jobs? Professor Terwiesch suggests to make good use of generative AI, treat them as partners, and not treating them like a war between AI and human. After all, they might generate hundreds of ideas of which perhaps only five are good. We need human to make the choices. … At least for now!
Be prepared to live in this innovative world!
First, I would like to extend our welcoming arms to our new HCers. Welcome to our big HC family!!! You, who are new, might not be aware that I always send out emails to you on Fridays of teaching weeks because we do not have much time to meet, and yet I have a lot that I would like to share with you. If you are interested in what I shared before, please feel free to browse our HC website: https://hc.um.edu.mo/current-students/friday-emails/academic-year-2022-2023/ . I would like to specifically suggest you to read the email about how to write proper emails.
As this is my first Friday email for the academic year 2023/2024, and I want to keep it short, I would like to share with you the following picture (which people have different colors for different versions, but the concept is the same). No matter which zone you are currently in, ultimately, as HCers, you will be expected to be in the “Growth Zone”, not just by me, but most people around you, and including yourselves. So, if you find yourselves in some other zones, please think and plan how you can eventually reach the Growth Zone.
Enjoy your weekend!