Do you know what the most important discipline to study if you want to be a successful badass at anything? It’s not psychology, marketing, or business. If you really want to succeed at anything you try, you need to study economics. Seriously. The dismal science actually holds the keys to your success and happiness. The reason economics is vital is that it teaches that everyone is governed by his or her own self-interest. Once you fully understand what really motivates people you will be unstoppable.
What Economics Teaches About Self-Interest
Everyone makes decisions based on what is best for them. This doesn’t mean they make choices about what will make them the most money. It means they make choices that they think are in their best interest. For example, many people choose to work for less money because they enjoy their job. They feel it is in their best interest to be happy. Others choose to work at a job they hate for less money because they think the security of a paycheck is in their best interest.
They key with self-interest is that people are not always right about what is best for them. Sometimes they are awful at understanding their true self-interest. But, that is not relevant. People will still make choices based on what they think is best for them. Always. There are numerous studies that show that even altruistic behavior is really done out of self-interest. People may believe God will bless them for their good deeds. They may believe Karma will repay their kindness. Whatever the belief system, people are still making choices based on their view of their self-interest.
Understanding Motivations Lets You Predict the Future
There is nothing as powerful as understanding what motivates someone. Once you understand a friend’s, an employee’s, or a competitor’s motivations, you can predict what they will do in the future with incredible accuracy. You simply need to spend the time discovering what they think is in their best interest.
Imagine what you could do if you knew what your customers would do next month. Imagine how successful you could be if you could anticipate what your competitors would be doing next year.
You can make accurate predictions about the future based on your understanding of self-interest.
You Can Influence Behavior Once You Understand How Self-Interest Works
If you know what motivates people you have the power to influence their behavior. Economists understand that people respond to incentives. Incentives are conditions that tap into people’s self-interest. It can be difficult to master incentives because people do not always understand what is in their true best interest. However, if you know how to motivate people, how to align your goals with their perceived self-interest, you can get people to behave the way you want them to.
This power can be used for good or evil. You must be careful how you use your knowledge. Nobody wants to feel manipulated. If someone discovers you are using incentives to influence their behavior they may deiced it is not in their best interest to cooperate.
Economics isn’t mind control. But, when used properly, it is a form of social influence. If you are diligent in your study and application of the principles of self-interest you will rise above all obstacles. You will find people eager to work with you. You will be a complete badass.