"Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us."
Jerry Garcia

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Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 305

Estimated reading time:  1:50 minutes


Greetings from Toronto, where I am in the midst of a 3 day leadership development day with a client. It’s a larger group and I’ve been using music to call them back from breaks. One of the participants asked me if I had any ACDC in my music and I said, “of course.” Next break was called back with the assistance of “Thunderstruck.” And of course the whole group of them started head banging; I thought, I think I’ve found their rhythm.


We spoke later about Daniel Kahneman’s work on System 1 and System 2 thinking: http://bigthink.com/errors-we-live-by/kahnemans-mind-clarifying-biases. System 1 thinking is our fast, habitual, easy thinking and System 2 is our slower, more difficult, challenging and effortful thinking. We too often just use System 1 thinking because it is easier, and if we used our System 2 Thinking we’d get better results, but it is difficult and an effort to do so.


As I looked at my ACDC playlist I saw the song “Highway to Hell.” I thought, System 1 Thinking is like “Highway to Hell” and System 2 Thinking is like….wait for it…. “Stairway to Heaven”


System 1/Highway to Hell


  • Fast
  • Habits
  • Reactions
  • Frequent
  • Emotional
  • Stereotypic
  • Non-conscious


System 2/Stairway to Heaven


  • Slow
  • Thoughtful
  • Responses
  • Effortful
  • Infrequent
  • Logical
  • Conscious


You have a choice, you can use the easy highway, or you can use the more difficult, but more effective stairway.


And of course, here are some Youtube videos, just because…


ACDC,  Highway to Hell, 2015 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTPnzzcJA0g 


Ann and Nancy Wilson, Stairway to Heaven, 2012 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2u-PjvRyr0I