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The survey results are in…

I love stupid studies. They always make me feel smart. You know the ones. They involve a bucket-load of money and years of pondering by a team of boffins who come up with a result most of us could have shared for free.

I read one recently which revealed that CEOs make decisions earlier, faster and with conviction. Huh? Compared with whom? Those who make decisions later, slower and without confidence? Like those, well, like those who don’t become CEOs?

This startling revelation was discovered by executives at leadership advisory firm, ghSMART. Dubbed The CEO Genome Project, it took them 10 years of studying data from more than 17,000 C-suite executive assessments to also work out the disquieting fact that the path to CEO rarely runs in a straight line (it’s a long way to the top?); many CEOS may have started something new in their company (initiative?); and they are reliable, adapt well to change and have an ability to engage without shying away from conflict (leadership tendencies perhaps?).

In short, we learned from this decade-long research that CEOs:

  • Practice relentless reliability
  • Are relationship masters
  • Are proactive in adapting to change

I’m stunned. Who’d have thunk it?

One of my favourite studies of all time came to mind this week, after reading that the Queensland motoring organisation, the RACQ, wants pedestrians staring at their mobiles to be fined. It’s a solution they think will prevent fatalities and injuries.

The RACQ may well be onto something here because, years ago, researcher Dr Jo Lumsden from Aston University in Birmingham informed us that if you get absorbed in texting while walking (in that you have your head down and focus solely on the phone at your fingertips), there is a chance you might injure yourself, or be injured.

Hold on to your hats folks! Apparently it’s true. If you don’t look where you’re going, you could bump into someone, face-plant after walking into a post, or step in front of a car. That’s what Mum must have meant when she’d shout, “Watch where you’re going!”

But Mum was no scientist, unlike like Dr Lumsden, who created a laboratory experiment where volunteers followed a colour-coded path while texting, and video screens flashed up messages telling them to avoid stepping on particular colours. The result was that volunteers missed one in five potential hazards because they were so preoccupied with their phones. The scientific evidence is there!

Unfortunately though, we’re clearly not listening, as the pedestrian accident rate has risen between 5–10% in the US, Britain and Australia, an increase attributed largely to being glued to the phone, instead of looking around.

In fact, clearly so perturbed her research is being ignored, Dr Lumsden aired it again last year, with the wise conclusion that “the safest thing is for people not to text as they walk”.

Not to be outdone, the University of Iowa is, at this very moment, studying whether loud warning signals blasted from mobile phones to distract pedestrians crossing busy roadways could help. I can hear my mum’s voice now screeching from an app, she was very effective.

Lumsden is currently involved in VeggieMaths, a collaborative project looking to develop an engaging app that will improve children’s vegetable consumption while developing their maths skills. We used to do that in the 1960s, counting our peas.

Other mind-blowing university studies conducted as recently as last year include the one which discovered relaxing can make you fatter; alcohol consumption increases the chances of unprotected sex; being homeless is detrimental to your health; and Instagramming your food makes it taste better. (Okay, so that last one was a little surprising.)

It’s all very impressive to think researchers and scientists are proving stuff like getting drunk could lower your inhibitions and make you careless, and lying on a couch all day eating corn chips will make you fat. Although, I’m pretty sure Mum would have called it common sense. And, in a flash of brilliance herself, would also add that “common sense ain’t so common”.

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