Deadlines can warp time

One must be guarded against hindsight bias – to see something as being predictable or obvious after it has occurred, resulting in distorting our memory. Daniel Kanheman cites an experiment that demonstrates this. Political commentators in Jerusalem, were asked to predict certain outcomes of a meeting between Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong. Their initial observations were recorded before the meeting took place, where the participants assigned probabilities to these outcomes. After the meeting, the participants were asked to recollect their initial probability estimations. The participants unwittingly changed their memories and cited increased probabilities for events that did occur, and reduced probabilities for ones that did not.

But could this logic be turned on its head to be used as a strength? Viktor Frankl hints at this when he quotes, “Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now”. In essence, Frankl recommends using the benefit of hindsight to rectify our present actions. But how does one do that?

Deadlines have the ability to do this. When we take a deadline seriously, it reorients our present, which are moments in the past from its vantage point.

A deadline is an unassuming time warp, if we choose to empower it. A deadline that is not regarded is a snake defanged.

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