Tim Kastelle runs a very good blog. Hat-tip to him for Atul Gawande’s commencement address at Williams College. Gawande is a surgeon who writes about risk, performance, etc. Checklist Manifesto etc.
We talk a lot about “risk management”—a nice hygienic phrase. But in the end, risk is necessary. Things can and will go wrong. Yet some have a better capacity to prepare for the possibility, to limit the damage, and to sometimes even retrieve success from failure.
When things go wrong, there seem to be three main pitfalls to avoid, three ways to fail to rescue. You could choose a wrong plan, an inadequate plan, or no plan at all. Say you’re cooking and you inadvertently set a grease pan on fire. Throwing gasoline on the fire would be a completely wrong plan. Trying to blow the fire out would be inadequate. And ignoring it—“Fire? What fire?”—would be no plan at all.
it helps to try your hand at philosophy, try a rock band, etc., when you know you’re smart and your parents are doctors and, well, at worse, you got a Stanford Degree and a Rhodes scholarship to fall back on…. That’s what the elite left is forgetting about the new middle class, they are so squeezed that such risk taking that could be expected previously does not happen — same kid from a family making $70,000/yr does not have the ability to dick around like that — however useful it is — he’s gotta get work, gotta fund his $20,000 (or more)/yr education, deal with health care costing a healthy family of four $1500/month, deal with his parent’s shrinking retirement accounts etc… Excellent advice from much of the college he was talking to, but does it work the same at UMass? — not exactly sure.