Strategic failure

Like most people I know, I am somewhat neurotic. We are each have our own particular neuroses, and we all learn to develop coping mechanisms to get around them.

One of my neuroses, which is not uncommon, is fear of failure in high stakes situations. The more that is on the line, the greater the chance I can get sidetracked by the possibility of failure.

Clearly this is counterproductive. After all, when a lot is at stake, clearly it is more effective to increase one’s focus, rather than becoming distracted by the possibility of a negative outcome.

Over time I have realized that when I am in such a high pressure situation, I arrange to fail at something else.

I don’t do this on purpose, exactly. It’s more that I end up finding something safe that I can fail at.

Once I have managed to fail at something else, my neurosis is satisfied: I have affirmed that I am indeed not perfect, so I no longer feel any pressure to pretend that I am.

My mind is then sufficiently liberated to focus on the other goal — the one with the higher stakes. And it all usually turns out well.

Sometimes there’s nothing like a little strategic failure to help you get through the week. :-)

2 Responses to “Strategic failure”

  1. J. Peterson says:

    Now I’m curious to hear an example of non-deliberate “safe” failure.

  2. admin says:

    Well, I’m not going to give away all my secrets. Where would be the fun in that? 😉

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