The Positive Power Of Negativity In Success

Sun Tzu said it best when he said the easiest way to win would be to ensure anything that could cause you to fail was stopped. It's a simple concept but one that has a lot of scientific evidence for it and is well supported.

What is this simple secret? The idea is pretty straightforward.

The idea is to think of everything that could cause your plans for success to fail, and to ensure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that those things do not happen.

When you think about your plans there are only a handful of things that can happen:

1. Your plans work as expected and you succeed

2. Your plans do not work as expected and you fail

So really with whatever goal and plan you have in life, there is only one way it can fail - the plan does not work as you expected. So what are the reasons the plan does not work as expected? I would conjecture there are also only a few reasons:

1. You failed to anticipate something

2. You anticipated something but the way you planned to deal with it did not work

Either you didn't know something would be a problem, or you knew it would be a problem but your plan to deal with it was ineffective. 

So why do points #1 and #2 occur, I would say it is also only a couple of reasons:

1. You assumed you had anticipated everything you needed to anticipate so you did not look for more potential problems

2. You assumed that your planned way of dealing something would work

Both of these causes of failure actually come down to positive assumptions - assuming that you have anticipated everything or that your ways of dealing with potential problems was sufficient.

What would have happened if you assumed the opposite?

1. Assume that you did not anticipate everything

2. Assume that your ways of dealing with something would not work

Well then you would have kept looking for things that you did not anticipate and in theory you would have found more things. Likewise if you assumed your ways of dealing with things did not work, you would have kept looking for alternate strategies that would have been better.

The balance between perfectionism and flying by the seat of your pants

Taking this idea too far leads to debilitating perfectionism that makes you unable to do anything, as you spend all your time constantly trying to avoid failure. Flying by the seat of your pants and going with your first intuition leads to a failure rate so high that you can wipe out your ability to get ahead.

The answer lies in balance. I think Elon Musk said it best when he said "You should assume you are wrong and your goal is to be less wrong." Eventually you need to go ahead with a plan that you assume is still wrong and flawed and continually try to improve it while taking action.


Popular Posts