Systems and Sunk Costs

There was a time that I regularly visited Seth Godin’s blog for some wisdom about the way the world works.  A few years ago I just kind of stopped, though I drop in once in a blue moon.  There have been two posts by Godin over the last few weeks that have stood out to me.

The first dropped back at the end of September.  “What Can We Say about Our Systems?” dropped at a time when many of us, I imagine the whole world over, were wondering about the systems we had invested in and the inability of those systems to make better sense of Our Current Moment.   After a brief list of situations and questions, Godin writes this about systems and “normal”:

In a crisis, there’s maximum attention. And in a crisis, we often discard any pretense of caring about systems and resilience and focus only on how to get back to normal. This is precisely why normal is what normal is, because we fight to get back to it.

And that’s a big part of how most of us feel most of the time: clawing back to normal with work and the movies and eating out (looking in the mirror here).

A few days ago, Godin also wrote about “sunk costs.”  Sunk costs is something that Alan Jacobs writes about in How to Think, which I read with some students each autumn.  Godin frames his thought with a tough situation:

Tomorrow is another opportunity.

There are thirty people over there who are just waiting for you to help connect them, lead them or make things better. But if you’re still defending the stuck project over here, the one you put so much into, you won’t be able to show up for them.

What do you do?  Again, I imagine a number of people feel this way these days.  And no easy answer exists, I think.  There are reasons that we’ve invested in things, even if they are stuck.  And yet . . .

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