Greatest management technique is in mastering Murphy’s Law!

Toast more likely to fall on side of jam, if carpet is more expensive! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

Ever since I released my 1st article about Murphy’s Law on 08-Aug-2013, I have been experimenting with this law and collecting data to establish its truths and myths and the way it impacts what we do.

I wish to emphasize the law has very significant influence on our professional and personal lives, because a microscopic view of same helps to understand how to come to the grip of realities and how to influence events that have still not become realities!

To recap, Murphy’s Law is a simple statement “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong!” Popularity of this law is vindicated by fact that several books have been authored after converting it into innumerable corollaries and quotes, which indeed applies in our day to day life. Irony is that this law or its interpretations do not talk of “Anything that can go right, will go right”, which is absolutely correct and valid for all of us! It is a clear case of negative statements catching fancy of everyone, whereas positive ones should be firing our imagination! Great paradox is none of us want problems; but we always get stuck with what we want to strike-out!!

Murphy’s Law proves that humans are error prone. If we can reach to roots of how this law works, we would be armed with formidable technique of avoiding wrong decisions and actions, rightly managing business and people.

Mystery behind Murphy’s Law

My research for past 18 months shows:

  1. When I was desperate that my vendors supply on time, they delivered late on 16 out of 19 instances (84%)!
  2. Whenever I was cool, 13 out of 15 times (87%) vendors delivered on time!
  3. When I was confident that things would now not go wrong, 51 out of 80 times (64%) things did go wrong. When I analyzed in retrospect, I found that I was overconfident!!
  4. I decided to investigate why I commit mistakes while filling in a payment cheque, which I wanted it to least happen.
    I found that 18 out of 20 instances (90%), I was conscious (rather over-conscious) that I must not commit mistake while filling the cheques.
  5. I received 9 pieces of disturbing information in last 18 months and 6 of those were followed by more distressful issues (67%) within hours!
    It then occurred to me that whenever there is headline news in print media about harassment or intolerance, similar news from other places keep getting reported for few more days. Not that such subsequent incidences were fresh; those had already occurred but reported now. It clearly confirms that people quickly relate negative news to other negative ones and relay same promptly!
  6. Whenever I was determined not to get disturbed by anyone, more than 80% of time I was disrupted by unexpected visit of someone or phone calls.
  7. I had woken up in morning very irritated on 11 occasions due to body aches. I purposely decided not to take pain killer. On those days (100%), more irrational things happened, infuriating me; but those incidences stopped, when I took pain killer and got physically relieved.
  8. One weekend, I prepared tea for my wife with all good thoughts and care. No sooner she took first sip, she banged – what a bad taste! I started to wonder why my positive state of mind provoked her negatively; but soon realized that while being lost in that state, I had put extra spoon of sugar.
    I then learnt my lesson that getting obsessed with ovations or overwhelmed with emotions is actually not positive!!
  9. Once I started my day on high energy; but completely got drained by series of bad incidences. I started to wonder what’s happening. Oh; it was Friday 13th Feb, 2015! But, I never believed in such day/numbers!!
    So, I decided to check whether I would have bad patches on the next similar occasion. On Friday, 13th March this month, I decided to welcome worse but it never showed up!
    So, it was my negativity of 13th Feb, which took the toll and not number 13 and Friday! 

It is negativity, which nags us all the way!

Above real life examples are akin to Murphy’s Law. Incidences under point 1, 3 to 6, 8 and 9 show how negativity makes things go wrong. 2 shows when you are positive, things go right and 7 shows how when you become positive even with help of medicine, wrong changes to right!

Following would demystify Murphy’s Law:

  1. “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” is just a statement of negative reality. Opposite is equally true!
  2. Since we are prone to negativity, we notice, worry and count it far more often than positives. We consider counting positive is no brainer; so lose its count.
  3. People relate and relay negative information far too promptly than positive ones.
  4. Negative happenings make us too conscious and hence vulnerable to commit mistakes. That’s why we experience negativity bringing more negativity. 
  5. Notion that negativity can counter negativity is bunk; yet we believe in it. That’s the reason we are tempted to handle rude person with rudeness or reciprocate abuses with abusiveness.
  6. Negativity highly satisfies our ego!
  7. Negativity comes easy and takes innumerable forms – worry, wishful, fear, fury, obsession or depression. Therefore, most find glamor in negativity, whereas glory comes from positivity.
  8. It is an illusion that while being negative, you can ever be positive! These are mutually exclusive!!

If you can manage or manipulate Murphy’s Law as above to stay positive, you would be the most effective manager at your work as well as life!

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4 Comments
  • Rudra
    Mar 25,2015 at 9:21 am

    Regarding the 1st point, due to the fact that you were already so desperate about your vendor’s supply, it tells the importance of that particular delivery to you. Hence, bound to take time, otherwise you wouldn’t have felt desperate, right? Or maybe they did deliver roughly on-time, but since you needed it so badly, you felt that it was not ‘on-time’?

    As you correctly mentioned in your 4th point, I think it all comes down to your consciousness / unconsciousness mind.

    Regarding the 5th point, those disturbing headlines appear almost every day in the media. Its only when media over exaggerates one particular story, our over conscious mind tends to capture all other equivalent stories circling around. State of unconsciousness mind, again?

    9th point is kind of bunk to me and resembles unstable State of Mind!! 😉

    But agree 100%, it is negativity, which nags us all the way…

    Great post!!

    • Mar 25,2015 at 3:54 pm

      Thanks a lot for your views and analysis!

      Most items under point 1 and 2 were equally important; but in first case I was desperate i.e. negative; but in 2nd case, I was cool i.e. positive.

      As regards 5th point, it is only when one type of disturbing news now getting reported, that more of similar type follow suit in quick sequence. This confirms that we fall prey to negatives quickly and hence pick the same and report/relay. That is how gossips also go on; remember, these are generally around negative news!

      Though no where mentioned in books after books on Murphy’s Law, it vindicates the fact that negativity brings more negativity. Some times it is so trivial or routine, that most of us even fail to notice!!

  • Kirti Vaidya
    Mar 22,2015 at 3:39 am

    This is a very interesting and useful analysis. Thanks!

    • Mar 23,2015 at 1:16 pm

      I indeed appreciate your precious view and feedback!

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