Whatever You Do-Don't Follow Your Dreams

Whatever You Do-Don't Follow Your Dreams


Whatever You Do-Don't Follow Your Dreams
Whatever You Do, Don't Follow Your Dreams.

How many people have you heard say, “I’m an Optimist – I’m the sort of person who sees the glass as half full.” There is a joke that the Optimist sees the glass half full, the pessimist sees the glass half empty, and the engineer would say you have twice as much glass as you need. If I had to choose which one was the best response, I would say the half full answer, because it doesn’t have any consequence in stating that position. 

It would be different if the “Optimist” took their life savings to a casino and said that they were hopeful that the roulette wheel would be black rather than red – Here there is consequence in getting it wrong, and depending on optimism alone would be foolish. Pessimism might be a better perspective when it comes to gambling since it is so unpredictable.

Interestingly, in the roulette example, the engineer is the best person to ask. Joseph Jagger was a British engineer working in a textile mill, and noticed that irregularities in manufacturing caused biases in cogs and spindles to favor one orientation over another. He deduced that if a roulette wheel had been poorly manufactured, it might exhibit a tendency to favor part of the wheel over the rest. In 1873 he hired a team of people to map the winning numbers at 6 roulette wheels at the Monte Carlo casino. One wheel displayed a clear bias and Jagger then bet heavily on the numbers that were more likely to be winners. After 3 days he won $2M Francs – in today’s money that amount is estimated to be about $5M.

If you were to ask successful people what was the one piece of advice they would give, I’m guessing the #1 answer would be, “Follow your dreams”. They give that advice because it worked for them. That doesn’t mean that it will for you. For every optimist who succeeded, there are 10 optimists that didn’t succeed. Jagger won at Monte Carlo because he is a realist – he dealt in the reality of the situation. If he hadn’t found a bias in the roulette wheel, he wouldn’t have betted. Optimism has its place but I’ve read a definition of an Optimist as just “someone without much experience”.

My advice is to be optimistic, but base your decision on pragmatism. If you can’t make a sound logical argument for why you should be pursuing something, then you need to re-think it. If you still can’t find a sound reasoning for your project, then test it, without laying out lots of money or time. If you can make it work, scale up and cautiously continue. If your test doesn’t work, then abandon it. The saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again” should have the addition: “If it still doesn’t work, give up, and try something else.” I’m not saying give up, just give up on that idea. Certainly you can’t succeed if you don’t try, but make sure your idea has some basis in reality.

Everybody has dreams. I hear people being interviewed on TV about why they were successful, and the person responds, “I had a dream”, as if no one else ever has had one. It wasn’t having the dream that made them successful, it was following through on the dream – it doesn’t sound so magical when the interview response is, “I was successful because I had an idea, I researched its viability, developed a plan, I executed on the plan, worked harder and smarter than everyone else, and was eventually successful.” So do follow your dreams - just make sure you are awake first.

The Author : Stuart Hamilton

About :

To structure the delivery of complex, large-scale transformational projects while managing and coaching multidisciplinary and matrixed teams. Day 1 assistance to develop strategy, roadmap, and execution plan, then execute and manage the implementation.

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