Tolerating the Truth

You have an enormous advantage in life when you have the capacity to tolerate the truth.

Anyone can tolerate the truth when it’s positive and favorable.

It’s much more difficult when the truth isn’t what you want to hear.

Just because you wish something wasn’t true doesn’t make it any less valid.

For example, it’s difficult to tolerate the truth that your skills just aren’t good enough (yet) to tackle a particular project.

It’s difficult to tolerate the truth when your project has failed and is beyond rescuing.

It’s difficult to tolerate the truth when your product is objectively much worse than the competitors'.

However, when you can tolerate the truth — especially when it isn’t pretty — you have the ability to take productive action immediately.

When your skills just aren’t good enough to succeed, there is no point in continuing to try in the exact same way.

When a project has failed, there is no point in wasting more energy on it.

When your product legitimately stinks, there’s no point in trying to sell it even more aggressively.

The first step towards successful outcomes is to stop wasting your energy on proven unsuccessful outcomes and redeploy your energy in a different direction.

Sometimes the redirection involves focusing on the exact same goal... but in a different way.

Other times, it makes sense to sacrifice a micro-goal to pursue the macro-goal.

For example, let's say you wanted to work at McKinsey because you wanted to work with smart people. If you didn’t get an interview, you might consider either trying again with better preparation (the same goal with a different approach).

You might also consider pursuing a different type of job that also involves working with smart people (pursuing the macro-goal of working with smart people instead of the micro-goal of working at McKinsey).

In late 2008, the global economy was in the greatest economic downturn of the past 70+ years.

Nearly every CEO I met with that year was stunned by the sudden change in the economy.

In the span of 24 hours, these CEOs went from one of the greatest economic boons they had ever seen to the worse economy of their entire lifetimes.

The CEOs whose companies survived (and even thrived) made immediate changes to their companies to deal with the new reality.

The other CEOs were so fixated on what the economy, their customers, and their company were “supposed” to be like that they froze.

Rather than take rapid action to change and adapt, they continued doing what they were doing, hoping the situation would improve on its own.

The first step to the path towards success involves stopping the continued pursuit of failure or a failing approach.

There’s a big difference between persistence via adapting versus stubbornly persisting failure.

It’s okay to make a mistake, be wrong, or get unlucky.

Don’t make it worse by persisting when it makes absolutely no sense to persist in that particular way.

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