Slaying Dragons #8 – Rational

John Watkinson tries to be rational.

Sometimes I like to discuss topics that are not immediately identifiable with audio. Audio is part of the world and is not the only discipline in which excellence is pursued, and achieving excellence by rejecting the mediocre takes place in many other endeavours that are worthy of study. We can even learn from mediocrity, what causes it and how to steer well clear.

One way of avoiding mediocrity is to employ the principle of proximity, where the fate of the individual is closely linked to the quality of their decisions. Thus rock climbers, pilots and surgeons regularly achieve excellence because the penalties for getting it wrong are severe. On the other hand the criterion for success for a politician is staying in office, and if the country becomes uninhabitable that’s too bad. It’s not that politicians are mediocre, it’s just that what they are good at isn’t stated and isn’t in your interests.

Another way of avoiding mediocrity is to question everything. Why should one act on advice that cannot be explained? One of my favourite activities is to throw in a simple “Why?” and watch the confusion. Those who learned what to do by copying someone else, a questionable process that in training circles is called “sitting by Nellie”, only know what, not why. If the problem changes to something Nellie didn’t do, they won’t even know what, let alone why. Don’t expect a rational answer. Expect any number of reasons why an answer can’t be given, including…

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