There is a “rule of thirds” which skilled mariners utilize to assess how far out into the deep blue sea they can go before they run out of fuel and can no longer safely return to their port of departure.
Use a 1/3rd to get to where you are going, use 1/3rd to return from whence you came and keep a 1/3rd in reserve in case you run into any unanticipated problems, detours, delays or systems-malfunctions.
The crucial lesson to be learned is to always be prepared for the unexpected by expecting that Murphy had the right idea when he proclaimed that “whatever can go wrong, eventually will.”
Therefore, we will probably all do well to carefully heed the implication of the “rule of thirds” and design, develop, implement, maintain, evaluate and improve our readiness, willingness and ability to invest in redundant systems.
A redundant system is a commitment to intentional proactive contingency management in order to decrease untoward risk specific to any action which is dependent upon something needed for that action to occur.
Consider again the sea-faring metaphor since the not-so-subtle extrapolation is that if the earth is a gigantic ship then we are all, ultimately, on the same boat.
So out-to-sea go we only to discover part-way through our excursion that a battery which runs the motor discharged and that we are now bereft of power, unless, we prepared for such a circumstance and have a spare in reserve.
Better yet, a spare and a spare for the spare so that when “push-comes-to-shove” we have already anticipated that should our main battery system fail, we are prepared with a back-up and also a back-up to the back-up.
Redundant systems of communications and/or alternative communication options necessitate thinking-through what one does when cellular transmission or reception are no longer viable, especially, during an emergency.
If one is out-to-sea, a working radio is a sine qua non; also a walkie-talkie; also a flare gun; also a distress flag; also a smoke-flare; also a whistle; also a message-in-a-bottle.
The idea is to absolutely, positively and always expect the unexpected and then to intelligently plan for as many contingencies as your worst-case fantasies and resources will permit in service of investing in redundant systems.
While there are no guarantees that every eventuality will be prognosticated, what is guaranteed is that for those situations, circumstances and problems which are planned-for, all that will remain is to implement the plan.
Whether it be the specific construct of the “rule of thirds” or the meta-construct of redundant systems, the key to success is to be prepared with a plan, a back-up plan and a back-up plan to the back-up plan.
Then and only then does the construct of redundant systems become conceptually and materially hardwired into the fabric of the plan which obliges the planner to plan both the plan and the contingencies to manage the plan.
Redundant systems remind us of the wisdom of the “rule of thirds” insofar as each and every one of our actions require a commitment to an intentional proactive contingency management in order to decrease untoward risk.
As known and unknown risks are incrementally reduced, ameliorated or otherwise mitigated, the probabilities associated with successes are markedly increased often resulting in the achievement of our intended goals.
Author Note: Dr. Larry B. Gelman is a Clinical Psychologist and a Personal Mentor
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