Knowing when to abort

I had an adventure while mountain biking last weekend, and it got me thinking about risk assessment and the psychology of admitting when we are on the wrong track.

I have recently purchased a holiday home in Turangi – close to winter ski fields and the awesome Tongariro River trail for year-round walking and biking.

Last weekend I embarked on a new biking route and was misdirected onto a wrong track.  It was marked pedestrian only, and I wrongly assumed that was only for the initial steep descent.  I dismounted and carried my bike down to continue exploring the “track”.

Before long I realised it was definitely not a biking track… but I didn’t want to carry my bike back up the steep descent I had just come down.  I mistakenly thought the better option was to carry on.

The track quickly became unrideable with large boulders to navigate, dirty streams that needed waded through, and some very steep banks that were difficult to climb and almost impossible for me to scale whilst carrying a bike!  Several times I thought I may have to abandon my bike to the wilderness.

After an hour of physical struggle the track finally wound its way on to a rideable trail, much to my relief.

The interesting question is – why is it so hard to admit a mistake when we find ourselves on the wrong path?

The time and cost to quickly abort and get back on the right path is usually much lower than if we determinedly continue on the wrong path.

Ego, embarrassment, loss of face, or unfounded optimism are the main reasons for not immediately acknowledging a mistake.

Not accepting when to abort can be costly in business.  It can lead to wasted resources, unnecessary overheads, missed opportunities, failed initiatives, physical accidents, lost trust and reputation, and the occasional business failure.

As Google explains:

Admitting you’re wrong connects you to your humanity, your integrity, and other people. It’s a practice that builds self-confidence, self-awareness, and self-respect.  Admitting you’re wrong is so powerful, it’s almost like a bolt of lightning.


Download File