Why we need the "Danger - Cliff" Sign

Because apparently it isn't obvious.

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I got an interesting email yesterday.

I couldn’t agree more with the conclusion, but the road to getting there was questionable.

The idea was that, throughout history, we’ve had a tendency to idolize the wrong people.

Celebrities, for example, have money and fame. However, their personal lives are often in shambles for one reason or another.

Or perhaps it’s an online business coach who got rich by lying and stealing from his audience. I know a few of these types.

We often emulate these types of people because of the wealth and power that we see. Only to later learn that maybe they aren’t worth emulating after all.

A better person to emulate is someone who succeeds because they did the work correctly. For example, Seth Godin. He has written thousands of blog posts and dozens of books. He is consistent in publishing and in his quality of insight.

And he has build a large audience and name for himself in the process.

This is a great lesson to learn.

But where it gets problematic is the idea of erasing mistakes. And this is where I take exception to the email I received.

The writer discussed the destruction of statues in the United States that represent war heroes or influential figures from history who were, for example, slave owners.

The idea was that we should erase these statues so we’re not inadvertently celebrating slavery.

The convenient side effect here is the simultaneous eradication of mistakes and lessons learned.

Which is why I strongly disagree with the premise.

So much so that I wrote a book to memorialize the metaphorical tyrants in my own life. It’s called Entrepreneurship Ruined My Life. And I’ll have plenty more to say about this when it launches in a couple months.

Here was my reply to his email:

I couldn’t agree more with your conclusion about consistency and winning the battle of attrition. Seth Godin has had a huge impact on me as well from his near perfect consistency over decades.

But personally I like to leave my statues standing as markers of not only my own history and mistakes but also as a story of the journey that I’m on. Many of my own readers have or have had similar statues. My experience can serve as valuable lessons for them.

Further, they are markers of which roads I don’t want to go down again. They remind me of what I value. And they prevent me from making the same mistakes over and over again.

I’d be more worried about a person with no statues, no waypoints in their mind scape. This person can be spun around, easily manipulated, and become lost in the infinity of possibilities. That to me is scarier than acknowledging my own mistakes and personal growth.

If your goal is to gimmick people into transacting with you so you can take their money, you’ll definitely want to tear down all the landmarks.

But if you’re interested in helping people, building relationships, and creating lasting impact in the lives of your customers, you’ll give them a map to navigate the terrain.

To be sure, each can work.

But I’m skeptical of anyone who wants to remove the “Danger. Cliff.” sign from the side of the trail.

It’s there for a reason.

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