Avoid value traps

(C) 2012 Jens R. Woinowski, leanself.org

There is a catch with values: Not all values may be your own. Are you a gadget fan, always buying the newest technology? How much of that is your own value decision, and how much is peer pressure from your friends and colleagues? Are you brandwashed (the term has been coined by Martin Lindstrom)? Are you always buying the top brands, although cheaper alternatives are objectively fine, too?

You may have fallen into a value trap. A value trap is a value you have incorporated following the advice of others (including family, boss, and TV commercials). Value traps can be more threatening. If one is forced into obedience by others until he even accepts this obedience as a personal value, things become very critical. Following the rule “you define value,” here is a follow-up rule:

Never fall into value traps other set up for you.

However, there is a corollary. You need to accept that others may have values, which are different from yours. If you do not want to be manipulated by others, you should try not to manipulate others.

Never set up value traps for others.

How do you identify value traps? There is a rule of thumb: Whenever someone uses a value to make others behave in a specific way, chances are high that a value trap is at work. This can be tricky; the best manipulators do not even directly cite values. Because values are individual, that would open avenues of criticism. Manipulators work indirectly. Sometimes they earn their money with it. Look at insurance commercials. They do not try to sell you a financial product, based on a firm and mathematically based risk assessment. Although this is exactly what an insurance is. They sell security. After installing the right amount of fear which makes you desperately want the insurance.

Above, I used the word “never” twice. What do you think, is that too strong? I’m looking forward to your comment.

PS: I left out a rant about religion. You can find that on Twitter.

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