Was that a mistake?

I’ve been reading Annie Duke’s Thinking in Bets. I’d say it’s a fantastic book we all should take time to look into and consider the implications for our thinking. It is very subtle unlike the usual popular non-fiction compiling studies and evidence to support a compelling theory or story. Annie’s book is largely a combination of personal experience, research and she is helping us recognise something we tend to gloss over in our lives.

My personal journey in understanding what learning is about and how it interacts with evolution started when I was barely 15 and read Eric D Beinhocker’s “The Origin of Wealth”. As it turns out, complex systems grow by being able to run loads of tiny experiments that enables it to learn and adapt at system level. That’s neat but the implications on a single individual is not that clear. The only encouragement is that survival is in itself a kind of win.

So back to “Thinking in Bets”; it gave me a new perspective in terms of reflecting back about life, actions taken, decisions and choices made in a manner that allows me to make room for chance and probability which is how the world really works. Take for example one of the biggest choice and commitment in my life: taking on the scholarship.

On one hand, having left public service, I could think it was a mistake to have taken up the scholarship and spent 6 years of bondage to the service when I had not develop my career further in there. Yet on the other hand, I might not have gone to UK for my undergraduate studies and got the exposure I had if I didn’t take on the scholarship.

Rather, the way to approach it is to recognise firstly that when I took up the scholarship, I had not expected that IE Singapore would merge with SPRING to form Enterprise Singapore. And because I gave public service a chance, I got a much more global and broad experience; and made the friends I did, got to appreciate and understand business in a profound way that helps me do my work as a consultant today. It certainly wasn’t a mistake, not when you are able to think through the complexity of such decisions, the limited knowledge, and the outcomes produced that brought you to the state of reflection this very moment.