“I don’t think any madman ever said ‘Why, what an ass am I!’ “
BBC discussion on Hamlet
Well, fortune favors the brave, sir.”
“I think that last night, fortune was merely inclined to favour the least incompetent.”
Success can be a, well, a deceitful sonuvabitch.
Winning can be a, well, a deceitful sonuvabitch.
Oh. As a result. Madmen who have had some success or wins can be, well, real sonuvabitches <asses>.
Regardless. They can all be deceitful because it makes madmen not recognize what asses they are or how incompetent the incompetent are. Suffice it to say I have worked in businesses for over 25 years and I have never heard one of the random madmen I have come across admit they were an ass and I have rarely ever heard an incompetent ‘winner’ suggest they were simply the least incompetent that day <or any day that matter>.
Success has that effect on people.
But maybe the most dangerous effect is, for many people, once you have had some any loss seems like a threat to, well, survival. Or, as Clausewitz said:
…victory leads easily to overextension, which leads to defeat.
Uh oh. Defeat is not an option <to madmen & incompetents>. Business people in survival mode tend to shed themselves of any ability to rationally adapt as well as any ability to navigate the ‘unknowns’ inherent to any business world. Instead, most shift into a more desperate effort to fling themselves into any possible path to the next victory.
Ok. Survival may sound extreme, but I cannot think of a better word. Suffice it to say that winners think it is a life or death scenario and losing is all about a part of them dying. The ‘part of them’ may partially be confidence but, what the hell, that is a pretty significant part.
Success or failure I do know one thing. Madmen will never say what an ass they are and incompetent people will always believe fortune favors the brave. Unfortunately, that suggests they are unchangeable.
That alone isn’t so weird <or damning>. In general none of us are particularly good at changing <particularly in their business style & character & skills within business>. And THAT is important because far too many try to change themselves in order to ‘be a winner.’ I am fairly sure it was Peter Drucker who suggested it is significantly more effective to improve upon the way you perform – how you already do what you do <rather than try to fix the bad things you do>.
Uh oh. This means <gulp> madmen become more asshole-ish and the incompetent double down on their incompetence. If the mad and the incompetent seek some solace, I would note that most people do not really know shit about how they actually get things done.
Most of us have no clue how other people do their voodoo <get things done>.
Shit. Most of us don’t really know what we are good at.
Shit. Even worse, most of us misjudge our strengths.
Shit. Even worser <I made that word up>, most of us who have had some success are even worse at misjudging their strengths.
Shit. The truth is more people actually know what they suck at <not good at>. Oh shit. But even then most people don’t get that exactly right. Holy shit. Suffice it to say we suck at judging ourselves. With all that self-assessment suckedness what do we do? Well, particularly in today’s world, you go the easy path — you simplistically judge off of outcomes/results <the successes & wins> avoiding any interest in scrutinizing any of the details of how you achieved the outcome.
In fact the details of our success becomes so unimportant in the scheme of things we create a mosh pit of all positive things which COULD have contributed to how good we were in that success. It is a crazy mix of ethics, values & integrity <inextricably tied to the results rather than the process embraced to gain the results> blended with a good amount of curiosity & perseverance & resilience <against the negative tides pushing against our inevitable deserved success> all sprinkled with the necessary “team player” <‘I thrive when I work closely with others’>.
Unfortunately, this mosh pit simply cloaks incompetence, mistakes, errors in judgement and whatever ‘not-so-good shit’ <being a madman> by painting a positive coat of ‘something’ over them <”we weren’t as efficient because I wanted the team involved” or “we pursued this idea out of planned curiosity only to judge it was not the best path” … crap like that>.
Oh shit. This gets worse. Winning tends to concentrate one on doing more of what they perceived they had done to succeed rather than invest any energy on cultivating any additional skills, needs or improvements.
“it takes far more energy to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.”
What makes that even worse is that translates into madmen concentrating more on ass–like things and incompetents focusing more whatever bumbling they had done.
Anyway. I have found <without any research> people fall into two buckets on this topic – those who focus on the win and those who focus on improvement. I would suggest the madmen and oblivious incompetent fall in the former bucket and the truly sane business people, with a chance of actually being good, fall into the latter bucket.
I say that because any pivot points in progress tend to become more obvious in reflection than in the actual ‘living’ within the moment.
Therefore, if all I do is focus on the win I will reflect with little true critiquing and most likely remain a madman and incompetent <this is actually called ‘objective blindness’>.
Therefore, if all I do is be slightly perpetually dissatisfied with my performance and critique, in a healthy way, I will most likely increase my competency and have progress.
The former says “fortune favors the brave.” Always.
The latter says “fortune was merely inclined to favor the least incompetent.” At least on occasion.
Lastly. I would suggest that madmen and the incompetent have one thing in common — lack of meaningful convictions <beyond success at any cost>.
“Convictions are not like gloves; one cannot easily change them.” …
General Petr Grigorevich
Well. “Convictions are not like gloves.” There is a keeper of a thought. Madmen and incompetents are incredibly good at treating convictions like gloves.
Shit. Their convictions are more like chameleons.
I end there because I wish more of us in the business world would keep all of this in mind. Especially the madmen, who are asses, and the incompetent <who win more often than they would like to admit … despite their incompetence>.
Sometimes you can be an ass and it is <generally> okay if you aware enough to sit back and say “what an ass am I!”
Sometimes you can be an incompetent and its <generally> okay if you are aware enough to sit back and say “fortune was merely inclined to favour the least incompetent this time.”
Who am I kidding? No madman has ever said “what an ass am I!” and no incompetent has ever said “fortune was merely inclined to favour the least incompetent this time.”
That’s only the kind of things we, the normal business people, do. Ponder.