Thoughts from an Anomaly
Novel ideas spill out of a novel
About a year ago, I read this book (The Anomaly, by Herve Le Tellier) at the beach and thought it was full of truisms that might be useful beyond the waterfront. What I’d like to do is post a quotation from the book and then follow it up with some thoughts as to how the sentiment might be useful in the practice of strategy.
“Nobody lives long enough to know just how little interest anybody takes in anybody.”
Strategy is practiced amongst humans and so the way humans think and interact matters. Every person sees the world through their own lens. Those lenses get fogged and have certain glitches and blindspots. One of those blindspots, to be sure, is the false-belief in the spotlight effect. We walk around the planet believing, in our bones, that we’re the star in the world’s-show. The reality is very different. People don’t think much about other people, if they do at all.
“Maybe life begins the moment we know we don’t have one.”
Carrying on from the note above, we people are hyper-sensitive to the spotlight effect. We think the world is watching us all the time, and that has an impact on how we live our lives. We act most of the time in the mistaken belief that others are watching, and so we condition our choices based on that misperception of observation. When we break free from that mistaken belief we can live more naturally, more normally.
“No author writes the reader’s book, no reader reads the author’s book. At most, they may have the final period in common.”
There’s what we think we’ve done and what others think we’ve done, and those two are rarely (if ever) the same.
Indian proverb: “Those who beg in silence die of hunger in silence.”
I take this to heart, as I’m in a predicament that this proverb speaks directly to. It’s the opposite of the ‘squeaky wheel gets the grease’ saying. And it also carries on from the statements above. If the world really was always paying attention to our every thought, would we need to argue so loudly for all our endeavors? The reality is the rest of the world is busy taking care of itself and so we’re forced to raise our voices a little to get the attention we occasionally need.
“I still don’t really like the word ‘destiny.’ It’s just a target that people draw after the face, in the place where the arrow landed.”
Ahhh, here we get to the practice of strategy. How intentional are we, really, when we spot the targets for our next accomplishments? I’m not so cynical to believe that we can never call our shots and take aim for future gains. But I also recognize that many “accomplishments” are after-the-fact stories of ingenuity that cover for blind luck.
“You’ve read War and Peace more than once so you know what General Kutuzov knows—the two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”
I love this. I love this thought. It may or may not be a perfect description of the novel’s intended message, but I do believe and have written much about the value and impact and completely undervalued nature of time when it comes to competition. So yes, patience and time are mighty warriors!