We like to think of ourselves as rational beings who operate from a rational mindset. However, after reading a short but fascinating excerpt of a conversation between Malcolm Gladwell and Steven Johnson, titled “Malcolm Gladwell on Why the Best Decision-Makers Are a Little Bit Irrational” I was inspired to think about the continual balance I try to find as a lawyer, entrepreneur, and counselor.
The article reminded me that while my job as a lawyer is to understand risk and help clients mitigate it, my job as an entrepreneur and founder of a law firm is to look for openings in the market and push my firm to greater heights when I know the odds are against me to succeed.
This duality has always fascinated me. Attempting to use my rational mind when advising clients, but also recognizing that to be a startup founder or entrepreneur is to live in an irrational world where the odds are against you, but you are willing to bet on yourself anyway.
The conversation between Gladwell and Johnson provides some useful insights on how to think about the risk of launching a new product or business. Johnson discusses utilizing a storytelling exercise before launch to think about three ways it may turn out: one version where things get better, one where things get worse, and one where things get weird. The last scenario opens you up to the possibility of seeing things that you may not have foreseen (or turned a blind eye to) if you didn’t go through that exercise.
The dance between the rational and irrational is one that every entrepreneur must learn. By practicing some of the exercises featured in this article, you can learn to master the balance.