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I'm right, and I know I am

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

My previous article looked at determination, and proposed a continuum from those who are convinced they are absolutely right through to those who are convinced they are absolutely wrong. Each half of the continuum had four “labels”, and this article is going to begin to look at the four characteristics on the “I’m right” spectrum, and see how they impact the wonderful attitude of determination.

The four characteristics – as a little memory jog - were:

There are positive aspects to all of these positions. From the absolute conviction at the top of the list, through to the desire to have that level of conviction, all can be positive, useful characteristics…but, equally, they can be rather dangerous if inappropriately applied.

Starting at the top…

I really know I’m right

I’m going to characterise this position as “faith” – whilst avoiding going directly into the religion-ramifications of that term. The reason I use faith is that faith is the essential for this position to hold – an unswerving belief in the correctness of your position

From a business point of view, there are some very successful people with this characteristic. Steve Jobs appears to be one – internal rumour about his involvement in the iTab project (which was already underway when he rejoined Apple) shows just how convinced he is that his way is the right way. I would also be tempted to put people like Mark Constantine (and colleagues), from Lush, the handmade cosmetics company. James Dyson might also belong here.

The link in this context between these people (and many others) is the degree of conviction they hold. James Dyson is famous for his conviction that there was a better way to design vacuum cleaners; Steve Jobs is famous for his insistence on the quality of the user interface of his products; and the Lush team are united in their eco-friendly approach to business.

The downside to this characteristic is when the strength of faith surpasses any challenge, however reasonable. The Sinclair C5 is a prime example.

The fascinating thing here is that when people get it right, they are lauded, but, when people with the same characteristics get it wrong, they are sneered at. How do we judge, and over what time period, whether these people are actually right or not? Sir Clive Sinclair may yet, in his ongoing pursuit of electric vehicles, be proved a true, successful visionary.

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Is it the case that only time can distinguish between a crazed zealot and an inspired visionary? Most of those who, through their determination, have achieved great things have been mocked, humiliated or vilified at some earlier stage. Bearing this in mind, how do we mere mortals learn from these people, and bring that learning into our lives?

There are a number of areas to consider. Do feel free to add to or challenge this list!

But, bearing all this in mind, don’t give in to this too easily! Later articles will look at the risks associated with this, but remember, this article is about those with unshakeable, unswerving faith!


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