Beliefs: Overcoming Adversity
I was at the top of the mountain. Everything around me looked majestic and calm. Somehow I thought I deserved this extraordinary view, especially after two years of head-down work towards my master. It was supposed to be my breather. And just the day before, while presenting to a group of really smart people, I get the shout-out for the best slide of the day.
What could possibly go wrong?
We do not see what we are not looking for. Most of the times, when we make decisions or try to solve problems we are using a model: a simplified representation of reality that captures our beliefs, which are mostly based on our knowledge at a given time, about how the world works. Sometimes we even bet on our hopes in the absence of other arbitrageurs. I will make it through, I will find a way, but I love the thrill, I feel alive. I have done that before, therefore it should be easier this time around. But is it really that way? Overconfidence is fed by the illusory certainty of hindsight.
In his book Thinking Fast and Slow psychologist Daniel Khaneman describes our brain as being a combination of two systems: System 1, which is supposed to look after mundane tasks, simple decisions - the autopilot, and System 2 which is supposed to kick in whenever System 1 does not know what to do.
Well, my System 2 did not kick in at all while skiing near Davos, Switzerland. No fight for flight, no what if?, not a single thought about possible consequences in case of making a mistake. The rest was somewhat predictable: crossed my skis waiting for help, sled, ambulance, hospital. Thee hours later I was walking out with a light brace on, xray and MRI results. All of a sudden, acronyms like ACL, MCL had new meaning. I did not question my ability to walk, I just knew I had to walk.
I have replayed those moments a thousand times. Where is the undo button when you need it the most?
By their very nature, people are inquisitive. To learn, we seek facts and answers as it is in this way that we advance. However, we are much better at doing things rather than thinking about things. Having worked for almost ten years in one of the most competitive and demanding areas - investment management - has enabled me to gain a pragmatic perspective on how to balance objectives and resources in order to achieve positive outcomes. It takes more than just doing things. I enjoy learning how to learn, thinking about thinking.
I will make mistakes, I have no doubt about it. And I will work my way through them. However, I would like to think I have learned to devote my free time to my thoughts, my family and things that matter most.
After all, chance favours the prepared mind.
Wise Words I like
“ A fantastic tool for internal growth is the experience of adversity. Indeed, this should really be the first tool of all. If we take responsibility for our mistakes and failures, they offer priceless opportunities to learn about ourselves and how we need to improve. ”