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There are two kinds of historical events to learn from

There are two kinds of historical events to learn from

  • Specific events. Their usefulness is limited to particular events that will not be repeated in the exact same way. What did this person do right, or wrong? What ideas worked? What strategies failed?
  • Broad behaviours that repeatedly surface in many fields and eras. These behaviours are often ignored. How do people think about risk? How do they react to surprise? What motivates them, cause them to be overconfident, or unsure?

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MORE IDEAS FROM THE SAME ARTICLE

  • Good times often breed complacency and scepticism of warnings. Until 2020, the public assumed pandemics were things of the past. 100 years ago, people had a better understanding of how dangerous an outbreak could be.
  • Carl Jung thought that an exces...

Optimism and pessimism go hand in hand. In finance, we are told to save like a pessimist and invest like an optimist. The short term is full of setbacks, problems, breakages, depressions, pandemics, errors, but if you can stick around long enough, you can experience long-term growth.

...

An important lesson from history is that big events are more complicated. It makes forecasting difficult, politics nasty, and lessons to learn from it harder.

We may demand simple answers to explain outlier events. However, it's almost impossible for something big to...

The risks we talk about are seldom the most important in hindsight. The real risk is what no-one sees coming. For example, September 11th, Pearl Harbor, The Great Depression. These events surprised nearly everyone and instantly shoved the world in a new direction.

  • Everyone has a model in their head of how they think the world works. That model is built mostly from what you've experienced and what people you trust have told you. But everyone has different experiences and a different set of people, leading to different models.
  • We also be...

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Know When To Step Down

Often leaders have chosen to stay on when they should have bowed out. Without intending to, they often undo much of their own work and cause problems for their successors.

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