Friday, February 17, 2012

Systems Thinking: The Later You Are Picked The Better Off You Are

As a kid I would hear people say how mean it was to have kids being picked for sports.  Which mainly made me think of how incredibly wimpy we have become.  But that isn't what got me writing this post.  I always figured the later I got picked the better.  My team was going to be pulled from the same pool of people.  My belief was people could judge the ability of others to some extent but with plenty of room for error.

So if I am the second person chosen that means my team will be filled would likely have a significantly worse teammate than if I am the second to last person chosen.  This first came up in gym class.  I really couldn't understand this pretty obvious analysis was not appreciated by people.  I still don't, frankly.  But I do think I now understand psychology a bit better.

It is a rather silly bit of psychology that leads people to worry about when they are selected.  But lots of people let themselves get worked up with silly psychology when they would be better off realizing how silly it is to worry about some thing they can choose to let bother them.

I can understand kids wanting to be liked and appreciated.  Attaching much value to what order you are chosen for in some sport to your desire to be liked a appreciated is pretty silly.  But I suppose if lots of kids do it (which may well be true) perhaps eliminating picking sides is a fine counter-measure.  My desire would actually be to have us learn not to worry about stuff that shouldn't worry us (build up emotional intelligence instead of deciding anything that might potentially make anyone uncomfortable needs to be avoided).  But if we are unable to that, fine not having kids pick the teams is ok.

The value of being picked later increases in pick up games.  When the winning team gets to keep playing, while the losers might have to sit out until it is their turn again.  My appearance on the court has never been very impressive so I am often picked later than I probably would be if I looked more impressive.  And that has helped me be on better teams more frequently.

I see it as my innate appreciation of systems thinking that let me see the value of being picked late.  The only time this would worry me is if there were more people waiting to play than spots to be chosen, then I had to hope I didn't drop so far I had to sit out the first game.

If I played at the same place too often my advantage of being picked really late often suffered.  Still it is funny because quite often the person that is suppose to cover me is blamed (how could you let that bozo score), more than I am credited so I can still be picked later and gain that advantage.

I realize some kids won't be able to understand the logic that the best result is for them to be picked later.  But you might want to give it a try.  Perhaps it can jump start an interest in thinking about what system impacts different scenarios have.  And how you can benefit from situations where others might try to make you think you should feel sad.

Related:  Flaws in Understanding Psychology Lead to Flawed Management - The Illusion of Explanatory Depth

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