Saturday, May 03, 2008

Foreign hand

The foreign hand or the conspiracy theory was one of the big things that impeded our success, or we had ourselves believe. This was our pet theory that prevented our minds from seeing perfection. Ironically, the foreign hand, itself was foreign! As Tyler Cowens says in his book, Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist, (in a chapter on Self Deception), "In atleast life in the Soviet Union was remarkably simple. If something went wrong, the citizens always had something or somebody-other than themselves-to blame."

So, there we were, for everything that happened, including somebody getting 3 marks less in an inconsequential exam, we blamed politics, influence, foreign hand, conspiracy theory and what not. Most people will empathise when they talk to anybody for poor service, be it the cable chap, tailor or even your regular office goer - they were not responsible, you see. The failure happened to a thousand mysteries - which unfortunately got together to screw up your order (and often, they emphasize, only your order - all the others went through - who will know for sure). This was a favourite trick in India during those "socialist" years, started by politicians and very enthusiastically adopted by everybody. After all, who wants to take blame for anything. Even today, a lot of times, we encounter this, in our quest for a very simple request, "Do what you promised you would do". But no, there was a foreign hand which prevented us from doing so, otherwise we are excellent. 

In reality, there is no foreign hand. It is only deceiving yourself from trying to do better at one level. At another level, as a service provider, all it means is that you dont care enough to try better.

Continuing series on perfection, here, here, here and here

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