History is the Study of Surprises
We’re living history, surprise after surprise after surprise. And just when we think we’ve had all the big surprises for a while, along comes another one.
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I am not someone who enjoys reading traditional business books. Aside from a few of the absolute classics, 98% of all books on business essentially say the same thing. I like finding and reading books that present ideas that challenge the status quo that make you want to keep flipping the pages to learn more.
I recently started reading BE 2.0 by Jim Collins. So far, this one is checking the boxes.
Very early in the book Jim hits you with one of those paragraphs you want to highlight, star, and never forget.
Read every word below closely, and then I will provide a few thoughts below:
“History is the study of surprises.”
This line from history professor Edward T. O’Donnell captures the world in which we live. We’re living history, surprise after surprise after surprise. And just when we think we’ve had all the big surprises for a while, along comes another one. If the first two decades of the twenty-first century have taught us anything, it’s that uncertainty is chronic; instability is permanent; disruption is common; and we can neither predict nor govern events.
There will be no “new normal”; there will only be a continuous series of “not normal” episodes, defying prediction and unforeseen by most of us until they happen. And that means doubling down on the “first who” principle. If you’re going to climb a big, scary mountain that’s never been climbed before, your best hedge against unexpected obstacles is making sure you have the right partners on the other end of the rope, people who can adapt to whatever you encounter on the mountain.
Even the most visionary among us cannot always predict which ideas will work. And no one can reliably predict what the future will throw at us or even what’s coming just around the corner.”
The context around this in the book is that it’s critical that you surround yourself with the right people and partners so that when surprises happen (and they happen… often), you are nimble and confident enough to push through and overcome.
Like everything in business, it boils down to people. More on this in my recent post below:
Before getting on with your day, read the below one more time, and never forget it:
“If you’re going to climb a big, scary mountain that’s never been climbed before, your best hedge against unexpected obstacles is making sure you have the right partners on the other end of the rope, people who can adapt to whatever you encounter on the mountain.”
Thanks for reading. Until next time.
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I like ‘First Who’. Can’t wait to read more Jim Collins vision. Somebody lock me in a room with my stack of half read books. Please