Sunday, December 22, 2013

Lazy Consistency and Denial

Most of us have the desire to be consistent.  In general, this is a good thing.  Think of how frustrating it is to deal with someone who is always changing his mind.  As just one example, look at how we treat politicians who can be branded as flip-floppers.  "I was for it before I was against it!" doesn't satisfy either side of an issue.

But the desire to be consistent can be dangerous when we get lazy about fulfilling it.

For example, many people in Silicon Valley like to think of the region as a near-perfect meritocracy.  When confronted with evidence that women and minorities are dramatically underrepresented, they face a choice:

1) They could admit this imperfection and examine the ways in which their unconscious biases might be affecting their actions, or...

2) They could attack their critics as attention-seeking troublemakers, allowing them to dismiss the evidence as biased.

Which do you think is more common?

Denying reality is particularly dangerous for entrepreneurs, whose situations are unusually risky and tenuous.  The rich and powerful can afford the cost of ignoring the evidence; startups cannot.

When you encounter discomforting evidence, don't take the lazy way out.  In fact, these are probably your greatest learning opportunities.

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