Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Near Misses

In Elon Musk's biography, Elon reflects on his rough childhood. He would get beat up by bullies daily.  One time even his best friend lured him out of hiding so a gang could beat him up. Then when he went home he would go to an abusive father. He actually described his dad of committing "almost any crime you can think of. Almost every evil thing you could possibly think of, he has done."

Malcolm Gladwell in his book David and Goliath talks about the idea of "near misses." During the second world war, Germany was doing bombing runs on London. The idea was that if they kept up the bombing, the moral of the Londoners would sink and they would flee and not support the war efforts. Even though there were hundreds of thousands of casualties, the exact opposite happened. People actually got more confident about themselves and support for the war grew. Malcolm calls this human psychology a near miss. If you have gone through a terrible event and survived, you start to gain a feeling of invulnerability.

It turns out that not everyone reacts to a near miss the same way. Depending on the experience some turn out scared, embarrassed, and this causes them to be worse off. But, for others, it leads them the opposite way, pushing them to heights. Malcolm goes on to talk about why a huge number of successful people (Richard Branson, Tom Cruise, Magic Johnson, Steven Spielberg, Picasso, etc.) have dyslexia and flips our perspective: They are not successful despite their disability, they are successful because of it. 

So yes I would definitely categorize Musk and a near miss as well. He is successful in a large part because of all the hardship he had to go through.  The book even states that he is sad that his children won't have the opportunity to experience the pain that he went through.

So look at the pain and adversity that you have gone through in the past and appreciate all the lessons you went through and how that has made you the person you are today. Also look at your struggles today and be thankful you have them. You can't become the greater you without them.