My Superpower

My superpower is the ability to look at a situation and immediately find at least ten ways that it can go pear-shaped. It’s what made me an excellent risk-assessment consultant and project manager. Well, it did when people were willing to listen. Most people get offended when you tell them that their perfect and foolproof plan is neither. I got out of that field partially because it hurts my feelings to not be believed. Especially when the client that hired you to specifically do that doesn’t want to pay when you can’t validate them. They don’t want to see what I’m warning them about. The hurt deepens when they come back later to tell me I was right.

Unfortunately, because I can’t turn it off, this superpower also why I have battery of anxiety disorders. It’s the reason I avoid the news as much as possible, keep my circle of friends rather small, and have so many boundaries. It’s why people who deny objective facts, vote against their own self-interests, and ignore the evidence of their own senses frustrate the living hell out of me. I have to maintain my mental health, and the only practical way to do that is to focus my access to information as an act of self-care.

My Superpower

Someone once told me that I’m just paranoid. No, I’m not. If you see water spilled on a tile floor in an area with high foot traffic, it’s not paranoid to suggest cleaning it up before someone slips. When you’re crossing the street and there are a lot of cars on the road, look both ways first so you don’t get hit. Those are the best analogies that I can give. When you have the information, these conclusions and recommendations ought to be common sense.

Others have accused me of having an agenda, because objective reality contradicted their personal ideology. I can’t deal with that. Your belief doesn’t invalidate my data, nor does it ascribe a motivation to the conclusion that must be drawn from that data.

Ready, Fire, Aim

When I get accused of the most is being negative. I don’t want projects to fail, or companies to lose money, or people to get hurt. Point out risks is the opposite of being negative. It’s a desire to avoid the potential, even likely, things that might happen and jeopardize a positive outcome.

As a writer, this explains why I’m a plotter and not a pantser. In business it’s why I write detailed plans and meticulously read contracts and terms of service. In life, it’s why I’m increasingly becoming a recluse.

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1 Reply to “My Superpower

  1. I’m glad I’m not the only one! This is indeed a superpower, called out as a necessity for good decision making in Annie Duke’s “Thinking in Bets.” I applaud your ability to see grim futures and mitigate them. That’s not negative or paranoid; it’s good sense. Guys like us might have prevented the Hindenburg, the Titanic, and the Fyre Festival. Paranoid is “This means that, pointed at me.” Negative is “This, therefore we can’t.” Prudent is “This, therefore we to that way.” Prudence is how you get to Oregon without having to eat your family.

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