Five Lessons from History
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“History never repeats itself. Man always does.”
The point is that the more specific a lesson of history is, the less relevant it becomes.
One of the interesting parts of the Great Depressions from history is not just how the economy collapsed, but how quickly and dramatically people’s views changed when it did.
People suffering from immediate, unexpected adversity are likely to adopt views they previously thought absurd. It’s not until your life is in full chaos (with your hopes and dreams your dreams unsure) that people begin taking ideas they’d never consider before seriously.
Reversion to the mean is one of the most common stories in history. Part of the reason it happens is because the same personality traits that push people to the top also increase the odds of pushing them over the edge.
Yes, decisions should be made with facts. But in reality, to those directly involved, they’re made with contextualized facts (with things like social signaling, time horizon, office politics, government politics, year-end bonus targets, making up for past mistakes, insecurities, etc). The easiest way to answer the question “What should I do?” is usually to be guided by a story that makes sense to you. Not a statistic or pure facts, but a good tale.
There are lots of overnight tragedies. There are rarely overnight miracles.
Progress happens too slowly for people to notice; setbacks happen too fast for people to ignore. Growth means compounding and that always takes time. Destruction is driven by single points of failure, which can happen in seconds.
There’s a long history of people adapting and rebuilding while the scars of their ordeal remain forever, changing how they think about risk, reward, opportunities, and goals for as long as they live.
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