Models: an exercise in evaluating models

January 13, 2012 by Joshua
in Awareness, Blog, Exercises, Nature

[This post is part of a series on The Model — my model for the human emotional system designed for use in leadership, self-awareness, and general purpose professional and personal development — which I find the most effective and valuable foundation for understanding yourself and others and improving your life. If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]

I’ve harped on how the only meaningful value of a model or belief is in how well it helps achieve its goal, not accuracy or if you had it first or anything else.

Today’s question will illustrate the difference. I’ll give you a situation to consider, then a question to answer.

The situation

Say you wanted to improve your public speaking and that you had poor skills and experience now. You have a range of beliefs and models you could hold.

The question

Which of the following models which you prefer, given you didn’t speak publicly well but wanted to?

  1. I’m terrible at public speaking.
  2. I’ll never be good at public speaking.
  3. Public speaking doesn’t matter.
  4. Others were as bad as me at public speaking yet still developed excellence in it.
  5. I’m going to be an excellent public speaker.

Before going to the discussion, choose which of the five you’d prefer.


In my seminars, nearly everyone chooses 5.

Now let’s evaluate them on accuracy.

Model 1 is the most accurate. Model 2 is nearly so, and you can make it as accurate as you like. Model 3 is sometimes accurate. The accuracy of Model 4 is unknown without research. Model 5 is speculative and least accurate.

Interesting, huh? The least accurate can help you the most.

This example clearly distinguishes between helpfulness and accuracy. In some cases accuracy and helpfulness overlap. The concepts are orthogonal.

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2 responses on “Models: an exercise in evaluating models

  1. Pingback: The Model: summary | Joshua Spodek

  2. Pingback: The Model: the series » Joshua Spodek

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