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Get Rid of Sunk Costs

Letters matter.

At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning. At thirty, I stood firm. At forty, I had no doubts.” ------ The Analects.

Thirty now.

When I look back to my life before thirty, it was not always smooth sailing. Some interviewers even pointed out that my experiences had significant storms and hails. I took such comment as a compliment because through the storms, there were growth and innovation.

Let me explain.

Although my mind was bent, twisted, and smashed. I was normal before the age of 16. It all started that year as I decided to pick up a brush and a pencil and learn how to paint. I became an art student. In college I majored in industrial design. After graduation, the world appeared to be a puzzle to me. I wanted to find out why those designs needed to be made and who should make decisions. Therefore, I went to the U.K. Studied Master of Creative and Cultural Industries Management. Then, I joined a start-up and an FMCG company as a marketer in China.

Now, here I am, typing my post for the blog I built three months ago in Auckland, New Zealand, after I finished an MBA study at the University of Otago.

Some people would call it "a distraction" or "inconsistency". I preferred to use this phrase: connect the dots and make things right. I was astounded by the number of people who wondered" Do I know what I want to do in my life?" and answered "To be honest, I have no idea." Some of those who asked themselves were in their thirties just like me. Some of them, even older.

We had been rushed by many things around us. Family, society, colleagues, social media, cultures, habits etc. We barely make our own decisions based on our own needs. It’s difficult to be a free soul nowadays. I wrote an article about searching the purpose of our lives in "Find your Kernel". But I did not mention about how this journey would carry on.

Let me introduce: Sunk cost.

Sunk cost, a common term in both corporate finance and economics. It referred to money that has already been spent and cannot be recovered. The rule of thumb was to ignore the sunk cost in consideration of future investments. What a clever idea! But in fact, our lives are often dragged away by sunk costs. We would be afraid of changing careers because of the experience we accumulated in certain areas. Even though they did not enjoy or have a passion. We even feared that those experiences would disappear, and our achievements would be in vain if we started something new.

Our lives weren’t maths; but puzzles. I embedded design thinking and creative thinking into business strategy design and problem-solving. And the moment I picked up a brush, jumped on the flight to the U.K and attended the first class in the MBA program has formed me who I am now. Ultimately, our previous experiences would play an unexpected role in our new careers, providing us with new perspectives and ways of thinking.

That is how innovation sprouts.

Kun Lu 丨 translation below

Confucius said: "They who know the truth are not equal to those who love it, and they who love it are not equal to those who delight in it."


Book to read:Thinking in Systems” — Donella Meadows

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