Success, honesty and humility
Posted on October 9th, 2015
My recent status of joblessness and general lack to motivation to look for a new one prompted me to think to myself: “It’s okay. It’s a phase. This too shall pass.” Seconds later, I wondered: Do we ever say this to ourselves when things are working out well for us?
We did it, we did it!
If a team loses a cricket match, the reason could be the pitch, bad umpiring decisions, a strong opponent or that our team had a bad day. No captain admits winning because of that one incorrect decision that went his/her team’s way? In the corporate world, an upstart complains that the pioneer has an ‘early mover advantage’. Why not acknowledge (heck, be thankful) that the incumbent leader paved the way by doing the heavy-lifting of validating/identifying market risks?
False positives can be as dangerous or worse than false negatives
In today’s noisy age of lap-everything-up media, growth-hacking and instant deification, applause is excessive and diligence is shallow. Examples are Foodpanda(India) faking its lucrativeness, Nokia/Blackberry’s invincibility, Nobel Peace Prize for débutant Obama, angular.js as the panacea. Let’s not understate their accomplishments. However, we must admit that the felicitations were premature and irrationally excessive. It is surprisingly easy to be misguided by success, and inaccurately attribute more to deliberate effort and less to chance.
Is Nihilism the answer?
Not at all. Optimism is necessary, so is celebration of success.
After all, a positive outcome is one of the several possibilities. And our job is to do everything possible to increase the likelihood of a win, converting the shadowy threats to manageable obstacles. Not considering the unfavorable odds is just survivorship bias, which we are all guilty of, at different points in time.
Even with the benefit of hindsight, it is hard to be accurate about what worked or didn’t work. Honesty, humility and the wisdom that almost everything is cyclic will help us deal with the present better.