The Temporal Nature of Success
was reminded of the temporal nature of success. More specifically,
what works at one point in time may not work at another point in
This was driven
home while watching the pool maintenance person pull into my driveway
the other day. Now, this same person has been servicing my pool
for almost 8 months. Every week, he pulls in the driveway and from
there pulls into a large dirt area on the side of the house (from
where the pool is easily accessible). The dirt is almost as hard
time, as I watch him pull into the driveway, it has been raining
steadily for almost a week. This much water combined with the soil
around my house makes the soil the consistency of oatmeal. Fortunately,
I see him and wave to him not to go back there. He waves back, but
keeps going. I yell. He waves some more. I just about dive in front
of his truck. To avoid running me over, he stops, but he is very
determined to drive onto the dirt (now mud). I try to reason with
him, but the lack of a common language is a small barrier to communication.
Finally, I make a spinning motion with my finger and a whizzing
sound and then point to his tires and then the dirt area. Communication,
He is luckier
than the plumber a couple of years ago, the last time we had this
much rain at once. He too decided to drive back there. When we tried
to tell him that he would get stuck, he wouldn't hear of it and
drove there anyway. Determination can change a lot of things in
this world. Whether you get stuck in mud isn't one of them. Finally
the plumber was willing to admit he couldn't get out without help.
So, we let him use the phone to call a tow truck. Even the driver
of the four-wheel drive tow truck wouldn't go where the plumber
had tried to go. They pulled him out with a winch. (As if to add
insult to injury, the plumber thought I should pay for the tow truck.
The pool guy
was luckier than the plumber. Maybe it was because he didn't want
to park in the mud badly enough to run me over.
Now, there is
usually some factor other than the phase of the moon that affects
this temporal nature of success (or failure) - like, the weather.
Or, economic conditions. Or, whatever...
we seem to be conditioned to think that - if something worked once
(or a few times), it will work again. Sometimes we are even arrogant
enough to think that it was our own skill that made the difference
when, in fact, it was entirely factors beyond our control. Remember
This kind of
hubris was rampant in the Silicon Valley during the dot-com boom.
Entrepreneurs who had founded one company and watched it rise, left
and founded another. After all, it had been their skillful guidance
that had taken their company from nothing to millions or, in many
cases, billions. (Granted, there were some who failed even during
the good times, but not many.) Then, much to the surprise of everyone,
the second company failed.
Ah, the temporal
nature of success!
You see, a driver
who is really experienced driving in all sorts of conditions looks
at the mud and says "I'm not even going to try to go back there."
Perhaps we should hold executives to the same standards we hold
drivers. After all, that's why they make the big bucks, isn't it?
...to know how to read the market conditions and do the right thing.
Maybe they shouldn't let their ego get in the way. If the market
conditions aren't right, maybe it's the right time to NOT be the
founder of a company that will ultimately fail. But that leaves
us with a dilemma... What's an executive to do if he can't found
a company when he wants to?
Well, he could
always be a plumber.
Three Kinds of Engineers
Only Half Full
Taking a Sit
Making Decisions with Less Data
Temporal nature of success
what you're building
of the name