Conquer Murphy’s Law

Conquer Murphy’s Law

Azim Premji at the age of 21 years was studying engineering at Stanford University. One day, he received the tragic news of his father’s death. Cutting short his academic pursuits, he returned home to take over his father’s business.  

Azim Premji at the age of 21 years was studying engineering at Stanford University. One day, he received the tragic news of his father’s death. Cutting short his academic pursuits, he returned home to take over his father’s business.

Muhammed Hashim Premji was running Western Indian Vegetable Products Ltd, based at Amalner, a small town in Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district. It used to manufacture cooking oil under the brand name Sunflower Vanaspati, and a laundry soap called 787.

Azim was apparently depressed over the tragic turn of events but had he not joined the family business at that critical time, we would not have had a company like Wipro today.

Yes, life has a thorny path. If anything has to go wrong it will. This should be the guiding psychology of everyone who aspires to conquer tragedy and shape destiny accordingly. This is precisely what is described as Murphy’s Law in psychology.

The oxford dictionary defines Murphy’s Law as ‘a supposed law of nature, expressed in various humorous popular sayings, to the effect that anything that can go wrong will go wrong.’

If Premji had failed to cope up with the impact of Murphy’s Law in his real life, the transition from soaps to software, from hydrogenating oils to manufacturing computers would not have been possible. The life of this business tycoon and extraordinary philanthropist should be a lesson for each of us.

Anything can happen in a split-second. A planned movie with family could be dashed because of an eleventh-hour development that needs immediate attention. It is how one copes with situations that matter most. Develop a mindset: ‘Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong’ and be prepared for the eventuality by devising strategies to overcome it.

Murphy may intrude any time. Murphy‘s law may take over your effort anytime. Be prepared to beat it. The feeling of invincibility may lead to complacency. At the same time, obsession with Murphy can demoralise you. However, a successful person should always expect the unexpected.

MIT research suggests some principles to beat the Murphy’s Law. Learning should not be an afterthought. Do not cry over spilt milk. Remember the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. So learn in many ways at once. For instance, vicarious learning. Learn from the experiences and mistakes of others .

Simulate what you want to do. The real time-work can face unforeseen problems. First, prepare a prototype of what you plan to make. Prototyping is doing something in a controlled environment before embarking on something larger.

Life is fun and fascinating till Murphy kicks it. Do not get disgusted and disenchanted. Step back and explore all the other available options. Await opportunities. Grab them with both the hands when they greet you.

Svyatoslav N Fyodorov is a Russian pioneering eye surgeon. He was a victim of Murphy in his childhood, yet rose to become what he was. As a young man, Fyodorov aspired to become a pilot. But, Murphy struck his life.

Something went seriously wrong in his life. He lost a foot in an accident at aviation school and thus become unfit to be a pilot. His dreams were shattered. But, the courage in him did not die.

He went on to become an internationally acclaimed ophthalmic micro-surgeon. He implanted the first artificial crystalline lens. He dreamt of a world without spectacles.

When confronted with Murphy‘s law, follow some simple but effective steps to cope with it. Do not react but respond. Peaceful mind limits the damage. Take some time to reflect on why and what went wrong.

Think of corrective measures if it is the result of your own acts. Otherwise, explore and experiment with other available options. Always have an emergency plan. Execute this crisis plan to cope with the situation.

Cursing oneself will only further worsen the situation. Positive mind and affirmation of your strength to beat Murphy is critical here.

Accepting the reality is the first step to fight it but people tend to be escapists and find solace in an illusory situation. Such thinking may give you temporary relief. But, it will disarm you in your inevitable endeavour to set things right.

Speaking about the much-needed personality in the hour of trouble, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam said, “When a problem arises, become the captain of the problem and defeat it!” The problem should never be your captain.

But, developing a positive mind alone will not suffice. You need to logically analyse the problem and find workable solutions. Perhaps, the situation now may be much better than what it was before Murphy struck.

People hit by Murphy‘s law often resolve to fatalistic mindset. It is the belief that events are determined by an impersonal fate and cannot be changed by human beings. Clark’s laws may help to overcome this ‘impossible syndrome’.

British science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke formulated these laws. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right.

When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. The corollary can be: if someone tells it is possible, accept it; if someone calls it impossible; dare to challenge it.

The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

Every novel idea evokes three types of reaction, to begin with
1. "It is completely impossible -- don't waste time."
2. "It is possible, but it is not worth doing."
3. " It is a good idea.” Rush...

The third reaction allows you to innovate. Any unforeseen obstacle should be an opportunity to do better and grow stronger. Like Premji and Fyodorov did.

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