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Murphy’s Law


Murphy's Law

Murphy’s Law is an old saying, basically “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” It does not mean that everything is meant to go wrong, but if there is a chance of something going wrong, more than likely at some point in time it will. There is not much in this world that will last forever, even the world will be engulfed by the sun one day. Everything will break down or disintegrate over time.

Empires come and go, Businesses flourish and die just the same as everything in this world, nothing is meant to last forever. I know this does not sound very cheery, but it is a truth that needs to be understood. Your business or product might be doing well today, but tomorrow things could change rapidly. On the other end of the spectrum things could be going badly, you could be banging your head up the wall for weeks and months on end, without a lucky break coming your way. The certainty is that things will change, one way or the other.

There is a saying by the 19th Century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli “Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.” In a sense this sums up Murphy’s Law, it is not about expecting bad things to happen, that is negative thinking, but preparing for any eventuality.  Yet even those who prepare well can still falter, Roberts Burns once wrote “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. This is why you need to learn to think on your feet, things can change quickly in the world of business. You must be prepared to drop one idea to pick up another at a moments notice. Those that stand still, will watch their business go down the metaphoric plug hole.

Stress at WorkI am sure many of you have worried about meeting sales targets, or have been nervous about the impact of a new marketing campaign. It is natural to have some degree of worry, we would not be human if we did not doubt the outcome of our actions. Doubt is an often misunderstood word, doubt should make you analyse your actions, it should not freeze you to the spot, but push you towards a better understanding. We all make mistakes and if you reflect on them wisely, you will learn from them, instead of allowing the mistakes to define you as a person. With a business, you do not want mistakes to cloud the judgement of prospective customers, honesty is always the best action. Hold your hands up and admit where you or your business has gone wrong and do something to put it right. Companies or people that hide behind excuses, end up just alienating others, this achieves nothing but dissatisfaction in you, your product or business.

PROBLEM SOLVING It might be a good idea to either use the following list when you encounter problems, so that you can get to the crux of the matter. Or reflect on it in advance, as the saying goes, if you are fore-warned you are fore-armed.

  • Define the Problem What is the problem and why is it happening?
  • Develop a Plan What are you going to do?
  • Implement Plan Carry out the intervention.
  • Evaluate Did your plan work?

When building a house, you build from the ground up, it makes no sense making the roof, before you have laid the foundations. In business, you have to follow a similar way of thinking, it is no good coming up with a spectacular marketing campaign before you even have a product. You have to do things in the correct order, or the idea will never get off the ground. If your planning is not in order, you will forever be back tracking to fix or find a solution to something you should of done weeks or months before. When anyone sets off on a project, they have success in their mind, but you also have to make plans just in-case things to not go as expected. You could call it Plan B or Plan C, no matter what you call it, every business needs some sort of back up plan. Things will go wrong at some point and when they do go wrong, you need to be ready and waiting. You don’t want to be sat there in panic when you read that your sales figures are down, you want to be ready in anticipation to act. Take disappointment as a challenge, it is not a disaster, it is a chance to build bigger and better than before, a chance to try something different. There is no need to think the end of the world is coming because things have gone poorly, but instead your mind must be positive and ready for the challenge.

Stock MarketIf you look at a stock market graph, it is always up and down, it never just goes up and up, nor does it just go in a straight line across. Does that not tell you something? Virtually every company has its ups and downs, good days and bad days, good years and bad years. But the ones that make the most profit, just stick at it, they do not throw the towel in after a bad year, they come back for more. That is business for you, once you begin it is a journey of twists and turns, no one can be sure how it will end, but as with everything it will end one day.

Who is this mysterious Murphy? I hear you ask, Edward Murphy was an an Aerospace engineer who worked on safety-critical systems in the early to mid 20th century. He coined the phrase “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” Hence why he tested and checked every part of an aeroplane so that he could understand its strengths and weaknesses. In the same way, you must test and check your business so as to find weaknesses that could cause things to go wrong.

There is a yin and yang to all of this thinking, do remember to focus on the strengths of you and your business, also the art is finding the balance. Never get too far ahead of yourself, nor should you become so bogged down with negativity that it stifles your objectivity. Nothing good nor bad lasts forever, you will find a way if you have the strength of character and mind to do so. Do you have any questions or stories you wish to share on this subject?


25th February 2016