Change the System, Not the Symptom - Ep. 19
Play • 15 min

In SOF selection, you'll often hear instructors say "Don't set yourself up for failure." 

From your viewpoint in the pushup position with wet sand abrading every inch of your body, this might seem like yet another form of casual derision. But it's an important reminder. 

Many of the little tests in selection are assessing for conscientiousness and long-term planning, or the ability to account for second and third-order effects in our behaviors. In other words, the ability to process "If I do X now, then Y will happen as a result, and then Z will happen like this." 

How well we do this determines where our actions fall on a scale between setting ourselves up for success or setting ourselves up for failure. 

Think of a drop of water. You want it to get from point A to point B. You’re not going to expect the water to get there because that’s what’s good for it. You expect it to get there because that’s where gravity will take it, and if that environment were to change, so would the path of the water.

We’re not as different from that drop of water as we may like to think. Our control over our future actions is limited. What we can control, however, is what we do right now to shape our future environment so that the path of least resistance is the one we want ourselves to take. 

This episode is about this concept - that if we change the upstream drivers that affect our behavior, we'll be better able to do the right thing in the future when doing the right thing is hard. 

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