3/17/22: Russia and preparation based on lies
This week's Think Better Newsletter is about what happens when you base your preparation on myths, wishful thinking, and opportunistic lies.
I've been wanting to address the Ukraine situation but in a way that aligns to the topics I've committed to writing about. And I'm not a military or Russian political expert by any stretch of the imagination.
Still, one of my core beliefs is that truths in one aspect of life will often hold true in other areas. The mindset that makes you a great athlete can make you a great student, worker, or manager. Not in the details, perhaps, but in the core frameworks. Success follows core principles.
The most obvious conclusion from the first three weeks of fighting in Ukraine is that the Russians started a fight they weren't prepared for. From the quality of their soldiers and equipment, to the response from Ukrainians, to the sanctions they would receive from other countries...they weren't ready for any of it.
How could every aspect of Russia's preparation lead them to create incorrect and overly optimistic expectations?
Because Russian leaders aren't incentivized to prepare. They are incentivized to lie and look prepared.
They repeat and reinforce myths (lies about the past). They forecast ridiculous future scenarios (lies about the future). And worst of all they tell lies about their readiness to fight and withstand sanctions (lies about the present). Their preparation was missing the most important input: the truth.
There is a quote going around attributed to a character in the show Chernobyl (which I've not seen): "Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later that debt is paid."
I wish to add to it. The longer you tell the same lie, the larger the debt will be.
The Russian army is paying the debt for those lies on the battlefield. The Ukrainian citizens are paying the debt for those lies with their lives. The Russian citizens will soon pay the debt for those lies with their shattered economy. Countless more will pay the debt for those lies when the Ukrainian grain that feeds the world doesn't get produced this year.
Lying and looking prepared can be an effective strategy if you're never put to the test. But when you finally are, the price is too large to bear.
Russia will lose because it was never truly prepared. The debt will be incalculable.
Preparation is the key to success. It involves knowing what your resources are, how to use them, and what the likely scenarios will be when you do. Great preparation leads to rational and emotional confidence.
But those assumptions have to be based on the truth. When they are based on lies, confidence becomes wishful thinking.
What we are seeing in Russia today is the macro effect of "your body rejecting the lies you tell it." The Russian body--the soldiers, the intelligence, the industry--are unable to carry out the plan. Reality forces them to reject it.
Don't ignore this. This is not just a military problem. How many start-ups fail because their plans are based on myth, wishful thinking, and opportunistic lies? How many government policies? Lesson plans? Personal relationships? Public works projects?
Make sure a reality check is a core part of your feedback loop. The cost of honest preparation is much less than the cost of failure.
Is there a lie in your life that's currently accruing a big debt? Might it be better to pay it sooner rather than later?
Go Be More,
Author of Make the Leap: Think Better, Train Better, Run Faster and the companion Think Better Workbook
Co-host of the Go Be More Podcast
Co-host of the Fueling the Pursuit Podcast
“Don't let your mouth write no check that your tail can't cash.”
― Bo Diddley
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