On a flight to Cabo last Christmas, we had an in-flight delay that lasted for several hours. It quickly became apparent that what I had brought to occupy myself on the plane was not going to be enough. One of the passengers in front of me was reading a book, and as nosy human nature would have it, I squinted through the crack between the seats to see what it was about. Well, it turned out that the book was very interesting, and I made several attempts throughout the rest of the flight to read his book.
What was so interesting about this book, and why am I even sharing this story? Initially, it appealed to me because it was a collection of essays based on research in the areas of cognitive and social psychology - my program of study in university - but it turned out to be more than that. I appreciated the author’s candor, and humour, in debunking some of my social misperceptions and expectations, particularly now as I start my own business. This leads me to answer the second question: why am I sharing this story?
In Rolf Dobelli’s book The Art of Thinking Clearly, the very first entry, “Why You Should Visit Cemeteries”, discusses the tendency for people to overestimate their chances of success. My typical response to a negative message like this would be to reject it because, well, if I just work really hard and do all the right things, I’ll be successful. Right? Wrong. Dobelli points out that for all the success stories - the ones that motivate us to try in the first place and usually the only ones we hear about - there are countless other stories of unrealized success (dare I say failures) from equally intelligent, talented, and hard-working individuals.
While I’m thankful to all of those who have had the courage to believe in themselves and who have motivated me, especially my husband, I’m also thankful for the reality check found in this book. To quote my mom, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”. The worst thing is I end up in the cemetery of unrealized success. The best thing? I become a success story that motivates others to try, too.