Stop Being Shelfish

Today’s post is short to make a point.

While I didn’t express it in these words exactly, in a previous message I wrote how the circumstances surrounding the timing of me becoming an executive director of Camp Classen showed me the importance of making data-driven decisions. Let’s look at the other end of the decision-making spectrum. We find there a cognitive bias (perceptual distortion) known as the information bias, or as I like to call it, shelf-development.

Shelf-development is a natural tendency to seek more information than we need. This cognitive bias can be especially dangerous in our times, when the easy availability of information on the Internet can lead to information overload. Because of the information bias, for instance, we may be tempted to read as many self-help books and articles as possible about a particular personal problem we are facing, thinking that the more information we have, the more prepared we will be to deal with it. At this level of awareness, we spend a lot of time and energy building up a library of books, articles, etc. that we were really excited to add to our collection but the needle of our self-development doesn’t moved a fraction.

Oftentimes, our predictions, as well as our actions, can be more accurate and more decisive when they are based on less information. In other words, it may be more beneficial for us, as well as for those around us, if we actually act based on the self-help materials we already have rather than hear the same advice repeated over and over again in a different form. The urge to consume information can itself be a way to delay taking decisive, life-changing action.

This is exactly why the Life Leaders GPS course is action based. It does contain valuable information but I make it very clear that the potential is NOT in the tool. It is in the participant. The course is based on the unwavering belief that transformation does not happen through information gathering but happens experientially. People who just want someone to tell them what to do will be sorely disappointed, but the brave ones who engage in the process reap the rewards.

Sometimes the right question isn’t “What should I do?” The better question is, “What do I need to stop doing?” One key thing might be to stop going around the mountain of personal growth.

Stop being “shelf”ish.




Rick Burris


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