Reflections on Ego vs Outcome

Picture this: you’ve spent money on a ticket for a movie, only to realize it’s a cinematic disaster. You’re hating every moment.

The sunk cost fallacy tempts you to endure the entire painful experience, whispering, “You paid for it; you can’t leave now!” However, being smart means recognising when to cut your losses. Staying just because you’ve invested doesn’t improve the movie. You’re free to choose – “Okay, I made a choice, but I’m not bound to suffer through a bad script. Let’s find something enjoyable instead!”

So now imagine you’ve made a really bad and ludicrously expensive policy pledge – like, say, deporting foreign asylum seekers to Rwanda. As time goes on, costs rise, feasibility drops, legal challenges mount, and many doubt that the Rwanda policy will make any difference to the desperate refugees risking the Channel.

But you’ve declared it to the nation. You know that if you backtrack on what is turning out to be a terrible idea, the British media are going to screech about your U-turn.

And so, nevertheless, Rishi persisted.

Through £400 million of taxpayers’ money.

Through the British Supreme Court’s decision that the scheme is unlawful.

Through the European Court of Human Rights granting an urgent interim measure to a potential deportee.

Through threatening to withdraw from the Human Rights Act, without which the Good Friday agreement collapses.

Now, I’m all in favour of venturing intrepidly into uncharted waters. When I set out to row across three oceans, I didn’t know if it would be possible – for me, or indeed at all. One of my mantras when wondering whether a big challenge is achievable is: “only one way to find out!”

However, when data starts to accumulate to show that an enterprise is doomed to failure, I believe it is wise (as on my first attempt at the Pacific) to abort, cut my losses, take the blow to my ego and return to shore to regroup and set out again with a better boat/plan.

To do otherwise would not be courageous and persevering. It would be pig-headed and foolhardy.

If ego becomes more important than an achievable outcome (for example, when it becomes your obsession to see a plane taking off, carrying asylum seekers to Rwanda), that makes for bad policy.

When the focus is on the outcome (finding the best way to balance international human rights with the needs of our UK citizens) rather than ego, that leads to better policy.

It’s high time the government extricated itself from this sunk cost fallacy.

When you find yourself on collision course with reality, you can try to move reality, but ultimately you will have to change course instead.

Other News

At the end of each year I enjoy taking time out to review the year just gone, and set intentions for the year ahead. I use Year Compass (with a couple of friends) to structure part of this process. It’s free, and I have no vested interest – just wanted to pass along a useful recommendation!

To keep up to date with me and my campaign, please follow me on Facebook! Or on LinkedIn, if that’s more your style.

We’re recruiting additional volunteers to my campaign team. If you live in the South Cotswolds, or you know people who do, please consider lending us an hour or two a month. Email my wonderful Campaign Organiser, Poppy Fair, for more details.

We are also looking for financial support. Every pound matters – even the price of a weekly caffe latte would help. If you’re ready for positive change in the South Cotswolds, please put your money where your mouth is by hitting “reply” to this email, and I’ll let you know how. Thank you! 🙏

I’m writing this newsletter on Wednesday, as I’ll be out all day Thursday, supporting our fantastic candidate, Tristan Wilkinson (pictured right), in the district council by-election in Lechlade, Kempsford, and Fairford South. So if anything truly dramatic happens in the next 24 hours, that’s why I haven’t mentioned it!

Quote of the Week

“It may not be prudent to seek new things, but it is wise to see things in a new way.”
― Debasish Mridha

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