07 December 2008

An Overnight Failure

You know the bit. Wile E Coyote in pursuit of roadrunner runs off a cliff, but absorbed in his quest and not looking down, literally runs on air until he does look down. Then he looks at the viewer withresignation and plummets to distant thud marked by a small cloud of dust.

When people wonder how the economy went from so good to so bad so quickly it didn’t. It was bad for a long time, only we didn’t know it. The economy ran off a cliff a year ago, meaning it was in recession even then. But no one knew because the bubble cushioned us against feeling it. Once that burst, reality got in. What seemed to happen right away had been there for some time, but we only now perceived it.

Lots of things are like this. Illnesses like cancer and heart disease can be going on a long time before they break through into awareness. Women demanded the vote for seventy years and were resisted the whole time, until suddenly it happened. A colleague of mine says that churches never feel they make slow progress or that their problems are going away. Success always seems to come quickly and arbitrarily.

Lessons?

We rarely see what is actually there. Denial and delusion are always in the mix. Do not trust your senses or those of others to tell the whole story.

While denial can prop you up against all odds for a while, it is never a reliable long term strategy.

Success is a tipping point/critical mass sort of thing. Until you reach that point it feels like failure the whole time.

Success seems to come overnight, but it actually takes a long time and never seems to be success until it actually is.

2 comments:

Revwilly said...

A very good analysis.

Anonymous said...

That insight is brilliant.