If you were 100% sure you were going to fail at whatever your current venture is, how might that change your actions today? I asked myself this yesterday. There are lots of competing cultures swirling in my mind regarding how I view success and failure. On the one hand, there’s the optimistic Disney or Steve Jobs mindset of Follow your dreams and It’s all going to work out in the end. On the other hand is the raw, neutral, statistical stance of Your venture is more likely to fail than not.
These two ideologies constantly compete for prominence in my mind, and it confuses the hell out of me. I fear however that the Disneyland mindset has trumped the “realistic” mindset. Which is not always a bad thing. Sometimes you need blind optimism when you’re completely in the dark. It’s the only thing that can get you out the other side. Too much blind optimism, however, can be lethal.
The everything will work out in the end mindset tends to make me lazy. It makes me think I don’t need to work as hard. I’m not as desperate. I take my time. I’ll figure this out, I say. It changes the intensity of my actions. I take things slow.
But what if an oracle told me that six months from now, my venture is going to go up in flames? How might that change how I act?
I imagine that would change my actions entirely. I’d be full of desperation. I’d do things I never thought I would. I’d reach out and/or beg people for help, rather than wait on my self for answers. Simply put, I would do everything in my power to prevent the realization of that prophesy.
I’d take on the “nothing to lose” mindset, which can be recklessly, but necessarily, powerful. It’s sort of like asking, if you had six months to live, how might that change your actions? How might that change how you treat yourself and others?
And so I wish I knew. I wish I knew for sure if I’m destined for failure. That would be the whip I need. The cold splash of water on my face. The exact catalyst I’m looking for.
But instead, here I lie like Schrödinger's cat, in a superpositioned state of both success and failure. If I knew for sure, it would change everything. But alas, the mystery is the meat of the game.