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What do the following scenarios have in common: repairing a car, gambling, a bad relationship, a poor book or movie, a war, an economic investment, a career choice? Each of these situations have the potential to put us in a position where we might have “too much invested to quit.”
For example, once you’ve invested $2000 in a new transmission for a older car, what do you do if the AC system goes and needs $2000 to make it work? Another $2000 is a huge amount, but you just spent $2000 on the transmission. Do you cut your loss and purchase a new car for $30,000, or do you have too much invested to quit and decide to pay the second $2000? What happens when the alternator goes out a month later? You get the idea.
The same phenomenon occurs when a poker player has lost money, but feels he/she can recoup the time and money spent with just one more hand. Also similar is watching a movie for two hours, only to have the network increase the frequency and duration of commercials. The last hour you are watching more commercials than movie, but you have too much time invested to turn it off and not see how it turns out.
Allan Teger’s 1980 book, Too Much Invested to Quit, explores the psychology of such situations, particularly as they pertain to escalating conflict. Teger’s insights reveal that we participate in TMITQ (my own abbreviation) situations, even when we recognize them for what they are. And, there are times where the tendency to do so is used against us in sales and marketing. Teger admits falling prey to the temptation to invest too much even during his study of particular instances where he knew he was being targeted by TMITQ tactics. It is a powerful psychological paradigm.
The most intriguing part of the book is the $1.00 auction game, which was developed to reveal the TMITQ paradigm in a setting where psychologists could study it behavior.
The game consists of an auction in which a dollar bill is offered for sale. As in all auctions, the person with the highest bid pays his/her last bid and receives the prize, in this case the dollar. The auction proceeds as a normal auction except for one additional rule. The second highest bidder is required to pay his/her last bid, although the second highest bidder receives no prize….The two highest bidders are both reluctant to quit the auction once they have made bids, for that would mean the loss of all previous investments. Once the bidding reaches one dollar, the parties are bidding on the dollar to win a dollar. From that point on, neither bidder can make a profit, even if they win….Now the contest is to see which party will lose the least.(p. 12f)
In the majority of cases, the dollar sells for more than $1, in some instances going for as much as $20. The book analyzes motives for starting a bid and for continuing to bid. Several chapters examine group studies and statistics about participation in the dollar bill auction. The later chapters will be more important to psychologists interested in the empirical data behind the study.
The book makes my bucket list of books because it revealed to me the TMITQ paradigm. Many times across the years, from repairing a car, to reading a book, to personnel administration, I have made decisions based on the self awareness this book allowed. The background knowledge forced me to decide if I was making a good decision or just following a default path toward more and deeper investments in a losing situation. The book has no formulas for making these decisions, it simply allows individuals to see a TMITQ situation for what it is, instead of blindly following the present course of action.
This book has been long out of print. I have seen copies advertised on the internet for upwards of $100, indicating its insightfulness. The typeface is dated and hard to read by current standards. Obviously, some details are out of date, such as the attractiveness of winning $1 in an auction. Experimenters may want to try $10 or $20 bills to achieve the same participation today.
If you run a business, manage personnel, read a bad book or engage in conflict, having read Too Much Invested to Quit, will encourage you to make a conscious decision about future actions, instead of rushing headlong toward potentially greater losses. I would encourage those who write government policy (on both sides the aisle) to read this book.
Here are some of my favorite leadership quotes. I’ll resist the urge to annotate and trust the quotations stand on their own.
James Kouses and Barry Posner, in The Leadership Challenge, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 1995
Leaders enable others to act. Leaders know that no one does his or her best when feeling weak, incompetent, or alienated; they know that those who are expected to produce the results must feel a sense of ownership. p. 12
To get a feel for the true essence of leadership, assume that everyone who works with you is a volunteer. Assume that your employees are there because they want to be, not because they have to be. In fact, they really are volunteers—especially those upon whom you depend the most. p. 31
Kouses and Posner found in their research that inspiring a shared vision is the least frequently applied of the five fundamental practices of exemplary leadership. p. 124
Always say “we.” p. 170
People volunteer when they expect to succeed! p. 272
Stephen Covey, Principle-Centered Leadership, Summit Books, New York, 1990
Quoting Goethe: “Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is; treat a man as he can and should be, and he will become as he can and should be.” p. 59
Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader, Perseus Books Group, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2003
Accept responsibility. Blame no one. p. 51
Quoting Eric Hoffer: “In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” p. 183
Jim Collins, Good to Great, Harper Business Publications, New York, 2001
Quoting Harry Truman: “You can accomplish anything in life provided you do not mind who gets the credit.” p. 15
Several months ago I saw a commercial that mentioned “the soundtrack of my life.” I had not heard of the idea, but once I started looking on the internet, I found books, videos, songs, and articles on websites from www.theguardian.com to www.forbes.com. Much to my surprise I had once owned about half of the records on Boy George’s chosen soundtrack. You can also find apps for mobile devises that help you compile your own list. I began to think what music would make up my life’s playlist, but never made any specific decisions.
Then, on Sunday, February 9, our music ministry hosted Mary McDonald for, what we call Composer Day. Listening to Mary on Saturday night I began to think about the “Soundtrack to my faith.” What music meant the most to me? What music represented different time periods and events in my life? A quick late night call to Mary about the idea produced a replacement to the already-written sermon for the next day. Here is a link to a video of our worship for that day. The sermon comes very late in the recording.
“The Soundtrack of My Faith” has produced as many comments from members of our congregation as any sermon I can remember. In the message I mentioned five hymns:
From childhood, “We Gather Together.” The tune, St. George’s Windsor, is very recognizable and reminds most people of Thanksgiving as quickly as the smell of roast turkey. To me the song demonstrates the importance of music in teaching the backdrop of faith to children. What I sang, I believed. Here is the reason our congregation has choir opportunities for children and youth.
From college days, “I Know Whom I Have Believed.” This hymn taught me I did not have to know the answers to all of the questions about God. I trust my experience even when I can’t explain all of it.
“There is a Fountain Filled with Blood” is a hymn I can’t explain. I don’t know why this hymn pulls on my heart as it does.
Amidst all the distractions of the world in which we live, “I’d Rather Have Jesus” reminds me that nothing else compares to knowing Jesus. In Philippians 3:7-10 The Apostle Paul counts the best things in his life as sewage compared to knowing Christ. We are all tempted to spend our affections, money, and energy on other things. This hymn keeps me grounded in what is important.
Finally, “God of Grace and God of Glory.” This hymn inspires me to service of God and humanity. It’s the same tune as “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,” which I also love.
Time constraints limited me to five songs. I chose all hymns for Sunday morning because Mary McDonald could help me engage the congregation with those songs. But I have more hymns that gird my faith, along with some songs that are not hymns. Here are a few of the ones you may find more surprising:
Lost Dogs – “Breathe Deep” – a challenging song of grace.
Bob Dylan – “Every Grain of Sand” – speaks of the omnipotent love of God. A secular “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”
U2 – “When Love Comes to Town” – with BB King and Lucille, a song about conversion. “I did what I did before Love came to town…” Christian references abound in the music of U2.
Bruce Springsteen – “Land of Hope and Dreams” – I’ve thought about writing about Springsteen here on this site. I think of him as the blue collar prophet of hope. It is amazing how many of his songs are about the hope of love, the hope a better life, or the hope of grace. “Land of Hope and Dreams” is not the gospel, but you can hear the echoes of the world’s longing for it in this song.
So those are some of the songs on my soundtrack of faith. What’s on yours?