More Thoughts On Failure (And Arrogance)

blind-spot.jpgThe soldier’s thoughts on failure being predictable have proved seminal in that they have provoked my own analysis of my own thought process and what I observe around me.

As an example, we recently noticed the business of someone we know was beginning to smell as if it might be failing. The owner of the business is quite bright so it was hard for the us to believe this person could not see what was coming. It was possible but hard to imagine as probable but as days and weeks passed the scale continued to tip in the wrong the direction.

The soldier and I discussed this and wondered if there should be some intervention. For example, do you tell someone their business is going to fail if they don’t make severe and sudden adjustments when it seems obvious to you? What if you don’t have all the information? What if they didn’t ask you? Who the hell are you to deliver this kind of news?

In this case nothing was said, time passed and the business is now almost certain to fail. To not speak up was a thoughtful decision so there are no regrets on that front but watching this process unfold as been educational. See, the business will fail in 6 months but it’s course was set much sooner and is due the flawed thinking of the owner which leads me to this:

It is quite a marvel to see someone obviously intelligent or even highly intelligent but then notice they have a missing piece that guarantees their failure. I think it can be a number of things but often times it seems tied to arrogance. People overestimate themselves. They just don’t think bad things can happen to them. This is often the case when someone has already enjoyed success and it leads them to think it will always be that way for them which is completely erroneous.

In whatever case if you’re watching you can see they have a blind spot and it seems human nature when people have a blind spot they cling to it for dear life. They just don’t want the light turned on over there and consequently things like this happen. Their businesses fail, their relationships fail, they fail with their children or whatever.

Contemplating this over the last day or two, I’ve taken a hard look at my own operations and determined (though it may appear different to others) that I do not suffer from this. Whew! I have other problems but I thought this important so I’m putting it out here:

Do you think you may have a blind spot that virtually guarantees your failure?

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More Thoughts On Failure (And Arrogance) — 23 Comments

  1. This is a great subject!Some people’s blindspots seem to be wider than others.

    My blindspot became a cancer when I was 28 to 29 and it had to be surgically removed. I installed larger mirrors and do a lot of shoulder checking habitually.

    I have witnessed some meteoric rises and breathtaking declines in the fortunes of others though.

  2. Probably. I like to believe everyone is going to be good to me and in the past its bitten me in the ass quite hard ‘No! You’re wrong about xxx! They’re not going to screw me!’. I’m just no kinda judge of people.

  3. I did, Elsa. Big ole gaping blind spot. So this is interesting.

    I had such great fears of commitment that I got into relationships that pretty much guaranteed there’d be none, long term. But if you told me this at the time, oh no, I *was* 100 percent committed.

    What I was 100% committed to 1) not seeing the facts and 2) being in relationships with partners who were no way, no how going to commit. Ah, a win-win! 🙂

    Now I have a kind of prayer/mantra to ask God to help me see things as they are – not as I want them to be.

    But people tried to tell me this at the time “this guy’s no good.” Except, the thing is, I was mirroring him. So getting rid of the guy didn’t solve the problem. It was taking a look at myself and also why I wanted to guarantee that nothing would stick.

    So that’s why when I see people in situations doomed to fail (namely relationships), I say very little. Cause what I’d really like to say is “the problem isn’t them, it’s you, and you have some work to do if you think this is gonna last.” but that would be pretty arrogant!

    I figure this is how we learn our lessons. If we get out of those situations too soon, we’re right back in them before long. And that’s never good.

  4. Positive I do. But usually I’m convinced I have the staying power to see something through it’s entirety and that isn’t always the case.
    I’m also kind of stubborn so when people say “That’s not a good idea” I’m prone to want to try just to assert my independence and see for myself.
    Truth be told I have a lot of people in my life who do this, but it is usually in relation to money/school/work things, and never I mean NEVER with relationships with people.

  5. Well, I do think alot of enterprenurial people have a narcisistic streak rather than a biz sense.

    I do alot of business planning for people professionally and I think it’s easier for most people to visualize the success (whatever that means to them)than to do the really painful thinking that allows for failure.

    When they roll out the idea, I always ask “What is your plan if it falters- what will be your 2ndary strategy ‘ and even harder to contemplate for most is “Do you have a plan if it fails utterly and completely?”.

    Finally, most people are not sufficiently prepared (capitalized) for the amount of time it takes to sustain a business that might start especially in a faltering economy.

    Me having a Capricorn moon and rising, I have no problem seeing all of the quicksand along the way. Sometimes that makes for a very skeptical person in love and money.

    And very ordinary people try to do very big arrogant things. If you don’t believe that,take a look at the people involved in your local government, or this election or say the Federal reserve?

    Do you think they are the best and brightest we have or are they just the people with the biggest set of you know whats?

    I don’t say anything about peoples business model until I’m asked (paid). I don’t believe anything is too big to fail. I believe in free market economy and a good correction always shakes out the amateurs and wanna-be’s.

    But that’s probably why I’m Mz. Scarlett.

  6. Oh, yes. And over the last two years, I’ve worked on removing the huge blinders that were super-glued to the sides of my face. Received some good insights, but I’m sure there’s more layers of the onion to peel away.

    Isn’t life just a gas? I liked the Soldier’s way of expressing his views on personal failure, too. Concise. Matter-of-fact.

    doublecappy, I’m with you, I agree that the best thing about our blind spots are the big things they can teach us about ourselves and our humanity. Thanks for your insights.

  7. You know, I think I can say that I do not have any blind spots. I think this because I see so many flaws in myself (and forgive them), that I just don’t think there are any more lurking out there. Shit, I hope not! But I also see the positives in myself, so I don’t think that my blind spot is not being able to see the good stuff.

    Although, they’re called blind spots for a reason. I don’t think anyone can say for 100 percent sure they don’t have any (since they’re blind and all).

  8. I do know someone like the business owner. She consistently over-values herself and so takes some hubristic risks that sometimes don’t work out. Seeing that written out, she seems like someone noone would want to be friends with, and it’s true that a lot of people don’t like her because of this, but she is genuinely surprised at their dislike. Her hubris has an innocence to it that, I don’t know, it’s kind of weirdly endearing. And she takes her lumps without much complaining, so that makes it better.

    It’s definitely a blind spot, but I haven’t pointed it out because she’s never asked. Unless they ask, I think they have to learn it on their own. Unless that person is my husband. Our lives are too intertwined for me to not say something, in that case.

  9. I think some people also might just be attached to failing things.

    This guy running his business that Elsa mentioned might unconsciously need to go through this process, perhaps again and again. It’s something playing out for him.

    Some people need to be needed – so they go after failing things. Or some people need to confirm deep-held beliefs about themselves, “See, I always fail.” “I’m no good.”

    Sometimes I think people set up their whole lives like this. Like everything is an unconscious projection of guilt, negativity.

    And anything else would be really uncomfortable, too much, y’know? Hence, what you said, Elsa, “they cling to it for dear life.”

    All right, sorry to get heavy. It’s only noon. Sheesh.

  10. well god, i hope my blind spots don’t guarentee failure. i imagine i have them.

    business i do okay with. i tend to give my stepkids the benefit of the doubt, sometimes for much longer than would be approriate, not seeing clear signs of major trouble because i wanted to believe better and that’s brought me some pain (and feeling supremely stupid after the fact). i’ve done it with relationships, too, but am lucky enough to have a great husband now where i can give him the benefit of a doubt and be right.

  11. Definitely. I’ve realized a couple of them over the past few years and have been able to change my ways, luckily. However, I’m positive there are more and that I have to figure them out. Usually I do when I feel any sort of disappointment, which leads me to questioning why, really, I am feeling that way.

  12. Of course, and Pluto’s dug mine all up this year. Even though the outward ‘failure’ may look similar, the underlying reasons are different: some people are arrogant and overestimate, some underestimate themselves and operate beneath their capacity, and some try to avoid failure by not trying. For most people, failure is a rather sore spot, and reveals far more about them than their successes. Want to know how a person really feels about themselves? look carefully at the things they fail, and the way it happens.

  13. AnaBanana, good comment. I think I’ve been all those people at different times.

    All right, I think I commented enough on this post!

  14. Me too doublecappy. Letting go of this ‘failure’ phenomenon is hard, because then you have to assess what you are really capable of and what you are not. You have to actually look at and evaluate yourself for real!

  15. Some of the best advice I ever heard was never hire an upper level manager or anything more who has not had a major failure. If you haven’t failed you don’t have a fallback plan, you don’t know how to deal with it emotionally. If you’ve been through that you’re going to be much better at your job.

    I think that just might be valid.

    I know I have blind spots and lots of them. I need others around me to tell me straight up. I keep those around me who tell me straight up.

    I think I’ve had a few of those failures where I can see them coming but don’t know what to do and still let it come. Doing something about it often means giving up my beliefs about the goodness in all people and that I truly dislike so it hits me.

    Less so now, the last one cost me big. But it’s still a fuzzy (not totally blind) spot.

    I’m sure I have many more. 🙂

  16. I have been blindsided in work relationships because I forget people don’t operate the same way as I do, but in personal and business I think I’m pretty in touch. Ny husband however, has a big ol’ blindspot and yet we all pay. I have begged him for the last year to get out of business with his brother. He won’t, we’ll all pay.

  17. “I think I see most of my failure coming and do nothing to stop it. deer in the headlights or something.”

    Satori – I can relate to this!!!!
    (Or I refuse to believe that it’s really failure)

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