There is a classical fable by Aesop about a fox that wanted to eat some grapes. Looking up at the tree, the fox tried and tried and could not access the clusters of sweet fruit. After a while, the fox concluded that the grapes were not ripe, thus sour, and not even worth pursuing.

The fox reduced its dissonance (frustration) by criticizing the fruit; making excuses that they weren’t delicious anyway.

the fox and the grapes

This phenomenon is parallel to smokers who know that smoking is bad, but continue the act. To reduce the dissonance (internal conflict), they make excuses that lung cancer only occurs to those who smoke heavily or that if smoking doesn’t kill them, something else will.

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is a term modern psychology has coined that references the conflicting internal views we have about frustrating situations. To reduce dissonance or unhappiness, we tend to make excuses, so that we can move on.

I bring this up because I had some friends who were convinced that Facebook promotions or magazine advertisements do not work.

Playing the Devil’s advocate, I questioned whether it was the platform that did not work or the advertisement created by the user that did not work.

It is very easy (and quick) to point the finger. This process becomes a convenient remedy for the things that do not [or do] work out in our lives.

My point is to intentionally seek cognitive dissonance! I challenge you to prove yourself wrong, even if you were right.

For example, I once launched a successful campaign for a client. A few months later, I looked back and wondered whether it could have been done better. Despite its “success,” was this possibly only a fraction of its potential?

lumpy macarons

If you do not challenge yourself, you will potentially fall into a pit of complacency. That is the first step to any company’s demise.

Kodak skipped the digital age, so Fuji, Canon, Nikon, Sony … took over.

Blockbuster continued late fee penalties and dismissed online streaming, so Netflix capitalized that market.

Borders outsourced to Amazon.com, so Amazon now holds the golden key to online retail and book purchases.

All in all, be courageous in finding fault in yourself. We hate to see it, but remember that we can learn from mistakes.

Cheers from Amsterdam,

Lawrence Chan

P.S. Next stop, Belgium! Julie will indulge in chocolates, while I drink myself silly with Belgium classics.

P.P.S. Personally, I have always had a bad experience with lamb. Too gamy. Taking my own advice, I gave Ad Hoc (a Thomas Keller restaurant in Napa Valley) a chance to prove myself wrong. In the end, it was the most delectable entree I had that entire evening. Seek dissonance!

ad hoc lamb chop