Humanity is obsessed with winning. Motivational speakers will make their living talking about how not to fail. However, the true reality of the world wouldn’t make for a very motivational speech.
There is no win that comes without a loss, to either yourself or others. For every victory there is some form of sacrifice that occurred to make the victory possible. The best athletes in the world will sacrifice their social lives, future career potential, and their daily comfort just so that they can win.
Most entrepreneurs will fail on average at least four times before achieving success. The biggest losses come when we are incapable of accepting the reality of loss in the creation of victory. A perfect example is in a relationship if one partner is incapable of accepting a loss. The obsessive need to win can destroy a relationship because compromise is a form of mutual loss. For a relationship to “win” there must be mutual loss.
Our primary perception of victory comes from human competition but this isn’t necessarily the best model to portray victory. This model of victory and loss does little to demonstrate balance of priorities. Instead of teaching our children that they can achieve certain things if they sacrifice other things, we teach them that they must simply be better than others. The other problem with the traditional model of victory and loss is it does a sore job of explaining that time sacrifice can possibly compensate for genetic inefficiencies.
The idea of sacrifice applies to the entire human race as well. All victories we have made as a race have come at some kind of loss. Almost every choice we make is on some kind of sliding scale and as the times change the scale size may vary but the scale never stops existing. It is important to realize that everything has a cost and we must understand the sacrifices we will need to make in order to achieve victory going forward.
In Malcom Gladwell’s book Blink he explained how a well educated professional can sometimes make better choices with less information. This willful or conscious ignorance can actually benefit us because over analyzing can sometimes have catastrophic results. However, there is one benefit that he doesn’t really go into detail about and that is the benefit of courage.
When I was building Scribble Maps I was completely unaware at that time I had some direct competition; competition we are now surpassing. When we started the project, although we did some preliminary research, we didn’t do thorough research. This project would lead us on to some other very exciting projects in the geo space but had we known what we now no then there is high probability we may have no proceeded with the project at all. There is often this belief you should not do something if others are doing it but the reality is you should do things if you can do them better.
There is a fine line between intelligent conscious ignorance and actual ignorance. Actual ignorance can cost lives if you are a general of an army. There is no solid rules about when you should choose to be ignorant. In my opinion it is valuable if it is preventing you from doing something instead of nothing. I have met many people who become stagnant they escape action by pummeling themselves with excuses like, “it’s already being done”. Apple, now one of the most successful tech companies in the world, came up with very few of their own ideas what they excelled at was improving on what everyone else was already doing. The first Apple computer was an improvement on every other boxy standard computer of the time.
All of this said, you can still make bad decisions. Focus is also important and if you have a lot of ideas in front of you, you should definitely focus on the ones that you think have the greatest chance of success.
What separates a homeless person from an ultra successful CEO? Why is your girl friend or wife acting a certain way? Why despite your greatest efforts are you failing?
The answer to all of the above is we are all seeking to be valuable. How valuable you become to both yourself or society is based on your personal discrimination of value. Value is not restricted to simply money, it can be fame, power, or the greater good. Even the greatest act of charity is a selfish act, because you wish to make the world better for yourself in order to increase your value.
Even the person who appears to do nothing, watches TV all day, and by everyone’s standards is a complete failure is in a process of attempting to increase their value. In the case of what appears to be complete failure, it is because their discrimination of value is so skewed that they believe their incorrect choices are the ones capable of bringing them the most value. For instance when faced with watching TV or doing work, a person might choose to watch TV because they believe the happiness they will derive from that is far greater then the happiness they will get from doing work, the value proposition is incorrect in most cases because doing work could lead to more freedom down the road which in turn would lead to more value then simply watching TV.
“What a successful person will be doing tomorrow is much less predictable then what a failure will be doing tomorrow.”
To determine why anyone does anything you must first figure out what a person finds value in or the immediate value they are seeking. This can often be a complex and daunting task, but sometimes it is very simple. In fact the more incorrect the discrimination of value is, the easier it is to determine. The reason for this is that failure is more common then success, and success requires one to change their discrimination of value regularly based on changing circumstances. So what a successful person will be doing tomorrow is much less predictable then what a failure will be doing tomorrow.
Having spent time with very successful people, the common trait I have discovered among them all is that they change regularly. The world is constantly changing, and the choices they make to bring value to themselves change regularly. It doesn’t stop at business decisions, they will even modify their ideals of how the world functions in order to be successful. If you’re having a hard time bringing value to yourself it is because what ever you believe had value no longer does. The horse whip maker who continued to make horse whips after the car came out would of eventually lost all their value if they decided to be immovable in their value discrimination.