We all have them: mental modals are shortcuts we design for prompt, patterned reasoning.

Anne-Laure Le Cunff challenges our mental models by asserting we should look for reliability and validity:

“When it comes to mental models, questioning the validity of a mental model is equivalent to asking yourself: is this the right mental model for the situation? There are many mental models, and it may be that you apply the margin of safety mental model, when really you should be paying attention to your illusion of control.”


This applies to your body of work, and even your body.

If we’re tired midday, we want sugary treats. Our brains tell us we’re low on energy and that treats address this for us. Makes sense. Could be anything – a nap perhaps – but sugary treats is a familiar route so it pursues that.

If the economy gets shaky and we’re less sure of certain revenue, our brains tell us we protect our team by spending less of what we have. Makes sense… doesn’t it?

Not so fast.

If everyone contracts, the market contracts, and we all suffer. If many contracts but we don’t, we gain outsized exposure opportunity thanks to less competition (because others have the above mental model).

If everyone hunkers down, but you’re the only one out there continually spending time with those you wish to serve, that connection will guide your path – you may even encounter new problems to solve during these difficult times!

The reliable and valid answer to times of uncertainty is to create certainty not by contracting, but by pursuing your people with equal or greater fervor and empathy than you would when times are good.

What mental models do you hold that ought to be revised?