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Insight Crosshairs: do you have the variety to succeed while others fail?

Insight Crosshairs: do you have the variety to succeed while others fail?

Insight crosshairs motivation and skills for success

Did you know that at one time the North Pole was purported to be the Land of Avalon? Such claims brought adventurers the world over to the Arctic, all trying to be the first to the Pole. Many failed. This blog looks at one of those failed quests and asks what you can do to ensure that you succeed in your life's pursuits while others fail.

Who are you, and what will you achieve?


Do you have the right blend of skills and motivation to succeed?

Your ability to thrive forms part of your human advantage, the thing that separates you from the rest. You can only succeed if you continuously learn. Learning is the key to not only your success but your survival.

You will succeed where others fail when your motivation, your passion, and your ability (Talent, Attitude, Knowledge, Skills and Experience (TAKES) meet the needs of the environment.

In today's connected world, if you do not possess the necessary TAKES, you need to be able to rapidly acquire them via your network.

You want to thrive in life and at work. So, imagine yourself caught in Insight Crosshairs that take aim at your motivation and skills. There is only one way to escape, which is through the top right quadrant.

Ask yourself, who am I, and do I have what it takes to escape?

  • If you are in the top right quadrant, you need to stretch your capabilities and stay alert. If you do, you'll stay fit and continue to thrive. [see our blog on the Agile Learning Leader]

  • If you find yourself in the bottom right quadrant, you need to re-evaluate the way you relate to your environment by exploring how you relate your values, beliefs and standards to your situation. [see our blog on self-determination]

  • The top left quadrant means that you need to challenge yourself to extend your knowledge, skills and experience. [see our blog on Insights and the Johari Window]

  • In the bottom left quadrant, you have work to do if you don't want to go the way of the Dodo!

You need to ask yourself whether you have the motivation and variety of TAKES to stay fit and keep up with your environment because your environment is not standing still.

Will you learn and survive and thrive, or will you go the way of the Dodo?


David's note: Ashby's Law

One of the most powerful and little known law's for determining success and failure in any given life or work environment is Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety.

Ashby's Law states that you need variety to overcome variety. You rely on your range of talent, attitude, knowledge, experience and skills to thrive in your environment. If your TAKES fall short, you don't have enough variety, then you fail. If you can't develop or access the necessary TAKES to overcome your shortcomings, you fail. 


When your motivation writes cheques that your skills can't match: the story of Evelyn Briggs Baldwin

In his 1885 book Paradise Found, the President of Boston University theorised that the North Pole was home to the mythical Avalon.

"This book is not the work of a dreamer. Neither has it proceeded from a love of learned paradox. Nor yet is it a cunningly devised fable aimed at particular tendencies in current science, philosophy, or religion. It is a thoroughly serious and sincere attempt to present what is to the author s mind the true and final solution of one of the greatest and most fascinating of all problems connected with the history of mankind." (Paradise Found: the Cradle of the Human Race at the North Pole (1885)

Enter Evelyn Briggs Baldwin, a man with high levels of motivation, but lacking in knowledge, skills and experience. Baldwin had the Arctic bug, which led him to publish The Search for the North Pole. Or, Life in the Great White World in 1886. While passionate, his talent as an adventurer was questionable; his experience listed as that of an Assistant Observer at the United States Weather Bureau. Professor Capelotti of the Penn State University Polar Centre goes further, saying that Baldwin's CV was a blend of fabrication and exaggeration. Ultimately, Baldwin had a passion for adventure but certainly lacked the knowledge, skills and experience.

In 1897, Baldwin's dreams came true when the explorer, Walter Wellman, made him second-in-command of his polar expedition. That winter, Baldwin led an advanced party to establish a forward base for the main expedition party that would arrive the following spring. Baldwin left two men at the base with inadequate supplies. The main party arrived the following spring to find one man dead and the other sleeping next to the corpse. There are questions about ultimate blame, but it seems fair to say that Baldwin's leadership and decision-making skills were, at best, questionable.

However, Baldwin's failure did not follow him, and in 1901 he led a new expedition funded by US baking soda magnate, William Ziegler. Baldwin's passions had gained him access to the best equipment and resources that money could buy, including three ships and a 42 man team.

From the very first Mr Ziegler has evinced a sympathetic interest in the fruition of the single purpose which I have so long kept steadfastly before me. On the day when he made my heart glad by announcing that he would finance the expedition (Baldwin's expedition announcement)

The expedition once again failed, where Baldwin was unable to make progress toward the Pole. Professor Capelotti says that Baldwin's leadership skills were 'sparse' and cites Ziegler as describing Baldwin as a man who spent his time eating pies and smoking cigarettes. Ziegler fired Baldwin when he returned to the US emptyhanded in 1902.

Baldwin was finished. He failed to escape the Insights Crosshairs, will you?


What will you do make sure you don't just survive, but thrive?

Learning is a continuous journey. There is always something out of view in your environment, but you can improve your insights by using tools like our 100 powerful self-coaching questions or Insight Spaces.

We also use Insight frameworks as part of our Good Walk and Good Workshops programme. Get in touch if you would like to know more.

Your other option is to do a Baldwin and fabricate and exaggerate your way through life.


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Thank you,

Good Life and work project

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