Friday, March 6, 2009

Burning Ships

Am reading a wonderful book, Predictably Irrational, by M.I.T. Prof Dan Ariely.

In chapter 8, Ariely mentions how Xiang Yu - a Chinese commander in 210 BC - prior to attacking the Qin army, ordered all the ships and cooking pots destroyed. This was to ensure that the soldiers wouldn't be 'distracted' with thoughts of retreat, return or staying put.

Result: Yu's soldiers won nine consecutive battles, completely defeating the Qin armies.

Cortez would've been proud.

But not us. We love to keep our options (and bridges and ships) open and available. Does that reflect prudence and a healthy flexibility or plain indecisiveness and kiasu-ism? Is having multiple options always a good thing? Ariely (and Yu, not to mention Cortez) would beg to differ.

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