Monday, September 8, 2014

Daily Briefing for Monday, September 8, 2014

What Jerry Jones Can Teach Us About Preparedness

Yes.  That Jerry Jones.

ESPN recently drilled down deep into the mind of the owner of the iconic Dallas Cowboys, providing a superbly written piece and giving us a glimpse into what makes Jerry Jones tick.

I'm not a big sports fan (I follow a few sports just well enough so that I can keep up with some sports conversations), but I do find the business of sports very interesting.  I detest baseball, for example (the game simply moves too slow), but thoroughly enjoyed the movie Moneyball, which was all about the business of the sport.

Working in the government relations arena, I regularly meet people who are often larger than life, and Jones clearly fits that description.  The ESPN story sheds a little light into what makes him tick.

He has a high "tolerance for ambiguity."  As described in the article:

Jones likens himself to a riverboat gambler whose success depends on a well-honed "tolerance for ambiguity." It's a fancy way of saying that when a big bet goes south or the accumulated risks outweigh the potential rewards, he can still function at a high level.

"The riverboat gambler can be his most charmin', he can be his most clever, the smartest, and not know it's all gonna end on the next card and he's gonna be thrown overboard if it's the wrong card," Jones says. "And a part of havin' a tolerance for ambiguity is looking for the more positive and bein' able to handle the negative because you've got more goin' on."

Preppers have a low tolerance for ambiguity.  If we had a higher tolerance, we would still perceive the risks to ourselves and family, but we would not fret about them.  Instead, we stockpile food and water, putting bug out bags in our vehicles and learn how to cook with solar ovens because we're concerned about the next blackout, severe weather outbreak or other failure of society and infrastructure.

Assuming that we wanted to increase our tolerance for ambiguity, and assuming it's possible to do so, how would we go about it?  And should we go about it?

  • We would be intellectually honest about the true risk we face.  My wife and I were just having this conversation this evening, as we discussed building materials for the house we are building in a couple of years.  We discussed the likelihood of tornadoes hitting the Austin area.  While there is a risk of tornadoes, that risk is small. (I'm more worried about the wild land next door to us catching on fire, lighting up our property with it.
  • We would learn to function better despite the risk, regardless of whether the risk is accurately perceived.  Learning to "deal with it" rather than worry about it is a sign of strong character.  We would learn to relish the challenge rather than dread it.
  • We would treat risks as opportunities to learn rather than problems to be endured.  Learning is how we grow.  It's how we get better prepared.  Dreading or fearing a risk rather than thinking of it as an opportunity to test or practice a skill can reduce your tolerance for ambiguity.  Your mindset is critical in increasing your ambiguity tolerance.