Bullwinkle assured Rocky, “this time for sure,” but he never pulled a rabbit out of the hat. We’re no different.
I was meeting with a fund manager the other day, talking about a project that’s in trouble. The people assigned to the implementation, or at least one group of them, simply haven’t done the job as needed. There’s no particular reason to believe they will ever do the job in a way that yields success.
However, he said, the project is simply too far along to make any changes. And so, he’s about to pour more money into a venture almost guaranteed to come up short, ignoring the reality that a team that failed to produce when the job was easy is highly unlikely to become fully productive now.
As a commonsense kind of guy, I found this curious. Perhaps something was lost in the translation, but it appeared that my discussion partner was dooming himself to failure.
“I know the Epsilon Omega Zeus Team (not their real names) hasn’t come up with good ideas and they don’t seem to know how to implement the plan, but we’ve already invested so much time and money, I can’t risk replacing them,” he seemed to say. “So, rather than accepting reality and changing course, I’ll just hope for a miracle.”
Now, this example should have all of us feeling just a bit smug and superior, because we’d never do anything this dumb. Except, of course, we would. And we do.
We issue the same ultimatum our teens have failed to acknowledge or fear in the past, confident that “this time, they’ll know I’m serious.”
We try the same crash diet we’ve failed to follow for 20 years because, “this time, I’ll have more will power.”
We present the same ineffective sales pitch for the 50th time, because “the first 49 customers didn’t really understand it.”
“I know the tire is flat,” we say, “but the next one might go flat as well, so I’ll just keep rolling on this one. Perhaps overheating it will cause it to re-inflate.”
There are times when life is predictable and orderly, when we know what to expect and can actually see the future. The right path, and the easy one, is to accept reality and avoid future regret. Too frequently, and foolishly, we choose to ignore what we know to be true and continue on the road to failure.
Deny now. Pay later.