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Episode 111 — Psychology of Performance

Performance is more than fierce determination. On the road to success, psychology underpins — and shapes — every personal choice. Habits, biases, social norms, the people we spend time with, and even the quality of goals we set determine how far we can go. These invisible barriers litter the road to our next achievement. Identification helps to clear the path, avoid pitfalls, and come out victorious.

We’ve spoken with world-renowned researchers to bring you science-backed advice on how to be a better leader and achieve any goal. 

  • Professor Dr. Katy Milkman explores the best times for making a change and why behavior is contagious.
  • Social psychologist, Dr. Vanessa Bohns looks at why leaders have even more influence than they think.
  • Dr. Jay Van Bavel, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at New York University, recommends baking dissent into every organization.
  • Dr. Ayelet Fishbach, Professor of Behavioral Science and Marketing at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, emphasizes the importance of setting the correct goals and incentives.

Flexible and Fun

If life is half nature and half nurture, that leaves a lot of room for improvement. Dr. Katy Milkman knows that habits require flexibility on the path to change. Repetition, reward, and some consistency help build long-term positive habits — and as Dr. Ayelet Fishbach says, goals should not be chores, but exciting aspirations.

By the Numbers

Lead by example — not with statistics — to influence your firm culture. We are watching each other. Constantly. As Dr. Jay Van Bavel points out, people in the same groups will mirror each other and look to leaders for how to behave. Dr. Katy Milkman explains that people with power do not experience the same societal pressures and play on their terms. Leaders who show vulnerability convey responsibility and unify teams.

Encourage “No”

We all believe that our perceptions of reality are true. But to get to the next level, we often have to question what we think we know. To avoid digging deeper into our sphere of beliefs, Dr. Jay Van Bavel recommends creating a culture where dissent is encouraged. If one person is allowed to poke holes, it frees up others to voice their concerns, ultimately strengthening a law firm's positioning.

Episode Resources & References



Michael Mogill, Crisp, Dr. Katy Milkman, Dr. Vanessa Bohns, Dr. Jay Van Bavel, & Dr. Ayelet Fishbach