Have you seen these type of articles before?
Things like, “12 Things Successful People Do Differently”.
Or, “13 Tips From The World’s Most Successful People”
The logic is: if it helped them get success, it should at least be somewhat helpful to you, right?
Yet, this type of logic is fundamentally flawed
And could very well make you worse off.
To show just how easy it is to get fooled by these success stories
Imagine this simple scam:
First, get the email address of 50.000 people
然后 告诉他们你是避险基金的员工 能够准确预测出股票市场的趋向
Next, tell them you’re part of a hedge fund that can accurately predict the stock market.
Now, here is the trick:
To half of them, say that the stock markets will go up
and make up some reasonable explanation as for why.
To the other half, say the stock markets will go down
Now, by the end of the week the stocks will move either up or down.
Let’s say the stocks moved up.
All you need to do is to cull the half which received the wrong prediction
这样 在剩下的25000人里面 再告知其中一半的人股票会上涨 告知另一半的人会下跌
So, out of the remaining 25.000, once again tell half that the stocks will rise and the other half that it will fall.
周末结果出来后 再次剔除收到错误预测的那一半的人 不断重复
At the end of the week, cull the half with the wrong prediction and repeat.
最后 在第10周周末 你就会向50个人证明
Ultimately, by the end of week 10 you would have shown around 50 people
that you can accurately predict the stock markets 10 weeks in a row.
Sounds pretty impressive, right?
In fact, if they’d then entrusted 10.000 dollars to your hedge fund
you would’ve run away with half a million dollars
Now, you might be thinking “Surely this doesn’t happen in real life!”
Well, it does.
But we are those 50 remaining people
Because we are so in awe of these successful people
We don’t even consider that there might be some other huge factors at play,
such as: luck!
For example, let’s say you wanted financial advice.
One hyper commonly advice, given on how to get rich is to take risks.
Because even if you fail, you can still learn from your failures.
That makes sense, right?
However, consider all the people who are bankrupt.
No doubt, they took risks too.
So, where’s their success?
Clearly, if we only listen to the winner’s story,
there’s no balancing force of bankrupt people telling us to be more careful
Another example: take a look at “In search of excellence”
a book which sold over 3 million copies!
It analyses about 50 excellent companies
and identifies 8 common traits that propelled them to success
然而 从那时起 除了有35家企业上市
Yet, since then, out of the 35 companies which are publicly traded
20 are falling below the market average.
5 even went bankrupt.
Which back to the question: were these companies actually ‘excellent’?
Or perhaps: were some of these 50 companies just the lucky ones out of a pool of 50.000?
and if so, why should anyone listen to their advice?
From here you can see what the problem is:
If you only take advice of the so called successful people
and ignore all the failures, you’re going to be left with a heavily distorted view of reality
This is known as ‘survivorship bias’
Furthermore, it doesn’t just apply to financial advice.
Let’s say you wanted some relationship advice.
Naturally, you’ll search for some happily married couple of 40 years and ask:
‘What’s your secret to marriage?’
They’ll give sensible advice too, like:focus on your partners’ positives rather than the negatives
Now, sure, this sounds like good advice.
It might even work!
Yet, it’s only when you factor in both the happily married
and the bitterly divorced
that you get a better picture of what’s really going on.
Take a look at this graph.
It followed lives of about 2.500 German participants for 10 years.
As you can see, those who are happily married are just happier to begin with
even before they met their husbands and wives.
They were already leading happier lives.
On the other hand, those who ended up divorcing were naturally more depressed.
Now, this isn’t something people realize.
Not many would say: ‘I’m happy with my marriage because I’m just happier about stuff in general’
And yet, this seems like such an important factor.
It suggests we should focus on improving ourselves before we think of improving our relationships.
So, here’s the bottom line:
When it comes to complex things in our life, like marriage and getting rich
No one really knows what it takes to become successful.
Therefore, when listening to the advice of successful people
be skeptical and make sure you aren’t getting fooled.
并且 多思考失败的原因 也许你会学到更多
Instead, consider the failures and perhaps you’ll learn more.