50 Cent, the rapper, once said something that stuck with me, "Biggie and Tupac were obsessed with death in their songs and interviews. And now they’re both dead. You invite that energy into your life if you always talk about it. That's why you won't catch me talking about dying all time."
Great insights Louie!
It seems to me that there is yet another human bias at play here: storytelling. We try to make sense of things, to feel that things happen "for a reason." So, when we fail, we try to find the silver linings in it, to think that "the failure left me something." That's the story we want to hear, instead of "it was just a failure, I lost two years of my life."
Of course, in the "small bets" methodology you don't waste two years of your life, perhaps you loose two weeks or two months tops. But more crucially, you don't justify failure as a way of "getting lessons." We can also learn lessons from success, but very often we do not because we're very busy taking the next step; when we fail, there is a kind of void that is often used for "reflecting" about the lessons from the failure.
It's much more counterintuitive to just accept the failure and move on. It goes against our storytelling nature –but it's by far the best we can do.
Thanks Louie, take care!
Interesting piece about learning from failure. One thought is that if the chances of success are very low, then it's much harder to discern lessons. Another thought is about expectations. If you're looking for a needle in haystack, and all you find is hay - what lessons can you draw? 🤣
I think personal failure is squishy territory as its typically entwined with ego, self and other things.
Not a big sports guy myself, but understand in sports teams focus on "rewatching game tape" to learn from both success and failure. Similarly, I think in science an experimentation mindset is about testing hypothesis. A null hypothesis is a result.
That said, I understand the principle you outline viscerally. I was terrible in school and failed the 2nd grade. When I redid the 2nd grade I went from last in class to being in the top of the class. I always attributed this change to some kind of "hot hand" winning streak. But with distance and time I realize that I was 1.5 years younger than my peers in the second grade and all I needed is time to catch-up.
Its hard to watch your own "game tape" without it getting distorted. So in the end I do agree with your point to not over-index on failure.
I agree with you about not obsessing about failures. I also noticed that I've slipped into trying to explain why I failed and have been shifting back to focusing on successes this year.
I'd also add that when you notice you're focusing on failing, it can be due to a deeper issue of not feeling worthy of success, and you unconsciously pulling yourselves back to failure. Recognizing that and switching the mental states is the way forward.
This was a good read. Thanks for sharing
As always, great writing there Louie.
The detail that always bugged me: if we shouldn’t learn from failure because it could be just bad luck, wouldn’t that mean we shouldn’t do the same with wins too due to good luck?
Is the upshot of this advice to just keep experimenting and trying things? Win or fail?
Thank you Louie. This was great!
Recency bias works both ways. On the one hand, it can be very motivating when we experience success. But on the other hand, it can be really disheartening when we experience failure. So we need to be careful not to let recency bias control our behavior. Instead, we can focus on making small, consistent progress, even if it's not always immediately visible.