The Rock In My ShoeWe all have training wheels provided us by the evolution of the species. One-trial-learning, which I refer to as training wheels, helps us survive in new situations. Unfortunately, it is also the root cause of prejudice.
One-trial-learning is hardwired into our species so we quickly learn that some things are dangerous. The hot stove and the child learning not to touch it the second time cliché is an example.
This hardwiring also works the other way. When we’re very successful at a particular tactic we come to believe that it will always work. This is especially true in naive leaders. Charismatic young men learn that followers believe them without thinking.
But there are situations in which the training wheels come off before the rider has mastered the bicycle. That leads to bruises and nasty scrapes.
For George W. Bush the belief in his good-old-boy charm gave him confidence that he could count on the loyalty of people who had served his father. In fact their loyalty always was divided. In the end they served him badly.
Now we see a truly charismatic President Obama building his staff with people whose primary loyalty is to the former President Clinton.
I fear President Obama will be even more poorly served by his team than was President Bush.
One-trial-learning is hardwired in us all. It is our first survival tool. As such it is the true basis for loyalty. Secondary learning never overwrites or replaces the results of one trial learning.
I believe President Obama may find that he has sad results from choosing a staff whose members have divided loyalty.