Ever heard of a post-mortem?
In Latin, it means after death. If you watch medical or detective shows, you’ve heard this word a lot. A post-mortem can tell you what happened in the aftermath but it cannot un-kill what’s been killed. There are parallels everywhere in the living world. Report cards. Divorce papers. Pregnancy Tests. Failed Projects. Bankruptcy. Election results. Once you get the ‘post-mortem’, all you can do is pick up the pieces.
But what if you could Messiah back?
You know those movies that start from the end and scroll back to the beginning? That’s pre-mortem. Dying before death. It’s a thought experiment that might save you from the jaws of death.
In the corporate world, it’s called risk management. You know how it gets in the office. You need to achieve Goal X and immediately jump to Strategy Y. A month later, that wagon capsizes into a pothole on its way past execution. A pothole that you would have seen if someone, anyone, had played devil’s advocate.
I know. No one likes to think about what could go wrong. We all want so badly to believe in our success that we strap on the blinders and bulldoze ahead. Expecting success. Believing in Happily Ever After. Thinking we’re immortal. Let’s take three steps back and pre-mortem out of this situation:
Step 1: Keep calm and assess your objectives.
Step 2: Think of every thing that could go wrong a.k.a locate the potholes.
Step 3: Swerve.
Before and in between all these steps, you will develop self-awareness. You will stop pinning your hopes in ideals and watch the road in front of you. You will sign that pre-nup, double up on protection, think thrice on strategy and account for all bumps, holes and messes that might stand in your way. Assume you have already failed, then work backwards. Are you strong enough to play Devil’s Advocate?
Don’t fight in the North or the South. Fight every battle everywhere, always, in your mind. Everyone is your enemy, everyone is your friend. Every possible series of events is happening all at once. Live that way and nothing will surprise you. Everything that happens will be something that you’ve seen before.
Lord Baelish, aka Little Finger.