Can You Feel The Wind At Your Back?

According to research from Shai Davidai and Thomas Gilovich, probablynot nearly as much as you can feel it in your face.
 
In one classroom exercise, Davidai asks students to google images for headwinds and tailwinds. For headwinds, there is a whole host of images of people being blown backwards and destroyed umbrellas.  For tailwinds, not so much (other than the occasional aeronautics diagram of planes.)
 
Images of headwinds are more available to us not just online but in our own minds. 

In their paper, Headwinds and Tailwinds: An availability bias in assessments of blessings and barriers, they examine the psychological phenomenon that shows we have a tendency to remember the obstacles we faced more than the help we received.
 
Over coffee last week, Davidai told me one other story that helps explain why.
 
Imagine Usain Bolt sets a world record for the 100M (not a stretch since he’s already done so numerous times.)   If I told you he did it in spite of running into a strong head wind, you would be all the more impressed by his accomplishment.  If I instead told you that he did it BECAUSE of a strong wind at his back, it might “cheapen” his feat in your mind.
 
None of us want to diminish our accomplishments or the roles we’ve played in our success.  We didn’t ask for the tailwinds – they were just there.
 
Usain still had to train and sprint and beat the competition. We still have to get up every morning and put effort into our work – often struggling to get by or get ahead.
 
On one hand, the presence of tailwinds shouldn’t diminish our effort or accomplishments.  On the other hand, to not acknowledge them is to take for granted the extra push we may have received along the way.
 
As you walk around today, notice which way the wind blows — for you or for those around you – both literally and more importantly, figuratively.

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