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<Corporate Sandwiches>Mental Model (2): Capabilities and Concepts

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The last time we shared the mental model of "The First Principle of Thinking", we will continue to share other interesting mental models.  

The Circle of Capability

We all know that everyone has different abilities, and it is difficult to use unified criteria to measure everyone's abilities. Therefore, we often use ourselves as a standard to evaluate others. However, do we know our abilities?  

In the early stage of learning knowledge, the learning process will be quite pleasant since we are only exposed to the basic parts. But when go further to understand, one will fall off the cliff of knowledge most of the time. It takes a long time to learn and have a deep understanding of it. However, most people stop at the superficial level and think they know already.  

The psychological experiments conducted by Cornell University in 1999 proved this result. Less capable people often overestimate their level of skill and fail to recognize their deficiencies. On the other hand, the experiment also found that people with high ability were overly modest, unconfident or overestimated the ability of others. This phenomenon is called the Dunning-Kruger effect. Therefore, it is very difficult for us to evaluate our abilities properly.  

The function of the circle of capability is not asking us to recognize our abilities. The key purpose is to recognize “what we don't know ". When we face something we "know," we can simply intuitively know if we can do it. But when we face something "don't know", we need to think and recognise "what we don't know", we have to judge whether we can "know" it. Then how should we "know". Throughout this thinking process, we can reasonably judge whether we can complete the work.  

To effectively build your circle of capability, you must know yourself well and recognize what kind of expert you are and which are you are happy to be a pleasant starter. Admitting your ignorance is an act of wisdom. Such as in ancient Greece, Socrates knew that he knew nothing, and was the wisest man in Athens.  

The Map is not the Same as the Actual Boundary

This model is more like a cognitive method of things. We use a world map or globe when we understand the world. We can understand clearly the national boundaries with these tools. But do these lines the same as what the actual national border is?  

It is not difficult to find that the maps of different countries may be slightly different among versions. We must recognize that maps are subjective and do not necessarily reflect reality. Many countries have disputes over the border, even the map drawn by an artificial satellite with an objective, the map we see is still a simplified version. And the information presented is far less than the reality. The reason why we use maps to understand the world is because it is convenient and saves time. But we must recognize that the world we see through these tools is not the real one.  

Or you might ask, isn't it natural and right? Yes, but we usually receive information through tools, most of which are second-hand or indirect information. Thus, we realize that we only know a simplified version of the truth. Nowadays, it is much more convenient to receive what we want from the internet. But this information is fixed and subjective. It is too easy for us to receive outdated or the presupposed views of others, and neglect the changes in reality and objectivity. However, the most horrible thing is this information able to influence the real world. 

Our cognitive biases can be reduced by making good use of mental models. Models are tools and sometimes they are not applicable. What we need is to keep our perception of reality to be updated. That's all from the introduction of mental models right now, but I'm sure other mental models will be also mentioned in future chapters. If you are interested in this, I highly recommend that you buy the book "Framework of Thinking" to read.


Simon So Head of Digital Marketing

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