One thing I remember reading that really stuck with me - most people externalize failure and internalize success. Meaning, when things go wrong, they point to external factors. When things go right, they credit their own skill and ability.
The opposite way is to externalize success and internalize failure - that means claiming responsibility for it whenever you don't get desired results, but being very skeptical of your successes and looking for where external factors broke your way so you don't get too high on yourself.
Turns out, externalizing failure/internalizing success makes you much happier but much less able to produce results.
Whereas internalizing failure/externalizing success makes you much less happy but much more able to deliver results.
Now note, this only applies in cases where your incentives come from producing results, as opposed to convincing other people you did well. That's the trouble with middle management and with politics - you win by convincing people you're doing a good job, more than actually doing a good job. That's very conducive to blaming external conditions for everything going wrong, and claiming personal success for everything that went right... which is much less conducive to results.
Nasty, huh? Actually that's why self-employment/entrepreneurship is so cool - we get paid for results, not for convincing anyone we're doing well in spite of the results. Thus, while it's still hard to claim every failure as your own and be skeptical of the successes, we do get compensated better for it.
I'm not sure of your definition of "most people" but how do you square this with the impostor syndrome that is reported to be widespread among highly skilled people? It's the exact opposite of what you claim as the default psychology.
When you succeed, you're on top of the world and can do no wrong. When you fail, you're a loser who can do nothing right.
"Wow, I really screwed the pooch there. It's going to take a while for me to live this one down. I better get to work."
"Wow, I really screwed the pooch there. I'm worthless and I can't do anything right. I should go drink."
One of those, I think, is a healthy way of accepting responsibility for failure. The other is not.
The same, really, goes on the upside.
I was making a shoot-from-the-hip guess. The difference between the two approaches which you mentioned is a correct sense of proportion. Of course, the same applies to the other ways in which one internalizes/externalizes both success and failure.
I mean, proportion has something to do with how publicly and how strongly you repent for your mistakes, but I don't see any case where it is in your best interest to accept that you are worthless.
To be clear, I can see cases where it may be in other people's best interest to give up on you, but I don't see any case where it's in your own interest to give up on yourself.
So you're speaking from experience. Have an upvote.
I've started my own business, too. I commiserate.
When he starts complaining about social protections though, I'd draw the opposite conclusion:
Need health insurance? No problem, we'll make sure that's provided for.
The article seems to me to imply that this sort of protection is a brake on innovation. I won't disagree that it has the potential to put a brake on innovation through additional taxation (though not as currently implemented in the USA, where total healthcare spending is far from efficient), but as a concept it enables failure and risk taking.
We talk about startups being ramen profitable, and that's fine. But my first employer was a startup who, when he started, had a wife and young kids - he needed 4x ramen + healthcare + education profitable. He's since made a success of the company and sold it, but how would he have been able to responsibly take the risk to start the company if its failure would have left his family not just bankrupt but without any form of medical provision? What if he also couldn't have afforded to educate his children? Would that have been good?
People are best enabled to innovate when they can be free to fail without a disastrous cost to their career and their lives - this is the lesson of the invention of the limited company and the prosperity that resulted from that. Social security safety nets such universal healthcare enable innovation over a wider pool of candidates because they reduce the harm of failure to the innovator and their dependents.
I cannot agree enough. Sorry for the sidetrack, but I have always thought about the scenario where say a person who is still far away from standard retirement age (maybe by about 20 years till medicare kicks in) has, say, just enough saved up to carry her through the rest of her life. If she doesnt have a working spouse with healthcare, she is forced to take a job. Whereas if healthcare was provided regardless of a job, it frees her from the necessity to work as well as opens up the job to somebody who needs the income as well as the care.
That's why I don't think the government is the best tool to encourage or provide incentives for people to quit their jobs and work on startups. The government can't filter well enough to cause more of the good consequence and less of the bad.
Startups are even more vulnerable to high monthly startup costs than they are to lack of financing. You can get by on credit cards working out of your garage, but not if you rent a large unit in an office park and not if you need to shell out hundreds per month per employee for health insurance.
Right now, college students are creating most startups. That's not only because they know the newest technology. They have no responsibility to pay for or protect a family. The single greatest innovation that would prompt the formation of more mid-career American startups would be any reform that takes the cost of health insurance off of corporate balance sheets. It seems most likely that would be some kind of "Medicare-for-All" system, though other innovations may be possible.
Big companies are all about not fucking up, and when there is a fuck up, bending someone over the barrel for it, so that it never happens again ... which is why they are places where innovation goes to die. I mean why would you attempt some crazy initiative when you'd just get dinged/fired if it didn't work out.
Google's masterstroke was is in empowering people to try new things without fear of failure with their 20% rule.
So whenever somebody asks how you/they can be innovative ... what they really should be asking is "how can we give people who work there, the freedom to try new things without fear of failure".
Any organizations that will do whatever it takes to possess that culture will generally succeed at this 'innovation' thing.
The most limited, precious resource in the world is people and their time. So admitting failure and moving on is the best thing, continued death marches are the worst thing.
You maybe had a DBA or sysadmin from a failed investment bank.
In fact, it seemed like a non-trivial number of startup engineers and product people in NYC were people who were sick of living in Silicon Valley.
Maybe it prevented certain smart people from going into hedge funds in the first place, but I wouldn't be so sure. Firms like 2 Sigma and Jane Street were still hiring, and actually had more startup-like attitudes towards workspace and technology than many of the startups.
I'm not sold on this. There's seems to be the popular belief that the ratio of failure:success is fixed, so to get more success, you have to get more fail too. Along with the "fail fast" technique that always reminds me of "the tortoise and the hare" fable. There seems to be an obsession with going as fast as you can, and not worrying if you fail.
Feynman's problem solving algorithm just seems more sensible:
1. write down the problem
2. think very hard
3. write down the answer
One counter example is Feynman's Rule: "If the sign is wrong, change it." There is a long story behind that, about Feynman heading off to present a big paper, asking a grad student to "check the equations", grad student calls with terrible news that there is an incorrect sign in the middle section, Feynman says "I feel it is right." and delivers the paper, and grad student finds a correcting error a few pages (and a few days) further on. Basically, if you understand the physics, you know the final sign, and (after the first time) there is no real need to verify every sign in every equation along the way. That story is really far from "a miracle occurs" and the answer is written down.
Feynman also was extremely interested in how he came up with breakthroughs, almost obsessed about it, and did some meta-research about creativity. He told one story about a solution to a superfluidity problem he came up with while walking down the street. It was apparently bubbling up in his subconscious, and suddenly he stops in his tracks. He raises his hands like holding an imaginary picture frame, and makes a motion with one hand: "If I just tap it here - Yes! The answer fell into place." It drove him nuts that he could not ever do that again. He said many times after that he held his hands up, tapped the problem he was working on, and ... nothing.
Hmmm, just googling for it associates the algorithm with Feynman. You know, I'm not sure if I actually read it in a Feynman book or if it's random trash I read on the internet. Wikiquotes attributes it to "a fellow physicist".
It's a rather common delusion :)
So much of the current talk about innovation, entrepreneurship -- I'm thinking of the lastest U.S. Administration program. A basic reason for the existence of this board. It takes change as a basic premise, a fundamental good.
Here's the secret: Social structures develop and evolve to promote stability. It's that stability that allows a greater combination and coordination of effort in more advanced works. That enables and makes sense of deep and long term investments, material and intellectual.
Those patterns can become constraining. Society reaches a limited "set point". Then change eventually overcomes inertia and shifts society out of this local maximum and back onto a course of less limited growth, of renewed prospects.
And since society is (increasingly) complex, opportunities for change exist, in aggregate, constantly, although in greater or lesser degree in different segments at different times.
Failure becomes desirable, when the benefits of trying outweigh the costs. When it won't kill you, or your family, or irretrievably break you -- then maybe you'll give it a go. Or when there is nothing to be gained in not trying.
So, move past "Change!", and ask how to make change happen. Help its agents get unstuck from local maxima. And ask what the goal is: An endless, exhausting treadmill of ever increasing change? Or a happier medium, when people can create and feel useful and e.g. still have a family and kids before their 40's?
This may be one component in why you don't hear so much about "blockbuster, breakout" start ups in Norway, to cite your example. Because people can grow their business to the point of having a good quality of life, without feeling that they must be the biggest because it's "winner takes all".
(This is speculation on my part, but based upon some years' observation, reading, conversations, etc. And my speculation about Norway is quite limited and takes your citation of their startup rate as fact, because I've never been there.
Also, admittedly, they have a lot of oil revenue at the moment, which certainly doesn't seem to hurt their aggregate well being. Something which is due in part, again, to preventing a "winner takes all" structure sought by "big oil"; regulation that has been cited and discussed here, before.)