The Focus On The Last Thing

from Seth’s Blog

The play before time ran out. The last speech of the campaign. The typo on your resume or the spot on your tie. The final decision before the company declared bankruptcy.

We focus on the thing that happened just before the end. And that’s almost always an unimportant moment.

Things went wrong (or things went right) because of a long series of decisions and implementations. A misguided strategy, a bad hire, a brilliant insight about network effects–these are the acts with leverage, not the obvious thing that all the pundits would like to talk about.

When you get to the thing before the last thing, don’t sweat it. It’s almost certainly too late to make the outcome change. On the other hand, when you’re quietly discussing the thing before that before that before that before that, it might pay to bring more attention to it than the circumstances seem to demand. Because that’s the key moment.

More here.

Posted in Ideas and tagged , .

3 Comments

  1. As I was scrolling through my options of articles to read, I strolled upon this article and was intrigued on what the author meant by “the focus on the last thing.” After reading this article I think it is one that everyone in my generation should read. With social media and technology becoming a part of mine and future generations everyday life, we are always shown “the last thing.” Whether Kevin Durant misses the game winner, or Kanye ad Kim file for divorce we are never shown the facts that led up to these moments. The example that is immediately comes to mind after reading this article is the Seton Hall game vs Louisville during the 2020 season. This was a very close game and Takal Molson in my mind was having an above average game. Although his offense wasn’t there, he gave it his all on every play and was getting rebounds and playing good defense. Yet, if anyone remembers that game the first thing, they will say is that “Takal lost us the game because he missed the final free-throw in order to bring the game in to over time.” I remember vividly my friends saying, “he is the worst player,” even though they are saying this all because of the last play of the game. Everyone only remembers the last play and forgets that the team wouldn’t have even gotten to that point if it wasn’t for is aggressive rebounding and defense. Playing basketball most of my life I understand other aspects of basketball other that just scoring the ball. Yet, social media makes it seem like one moment is the whole reason something happened in a game or in real life. The fact of the matter is that the things that happen before the last matters more than what actually happens last. We need to start paying attention to what happens before the end because that is truly the key moment.

  2. FINAL / EDITED COMMENT:
    I strolled upon this article and was intrigued on what the author meant by “The focus on the last thing.” After reading this article I think it is one that everyone in my generation should read. With social media and technology becoming a part of mine and future generations everyday life, we are always told “the last event is what’s important.” If it’s Kevin Durant missing the game winner, or Kanye ad Kim filing for divorce we are never shown the facts that led up to these moments. The example immediately coming to mind after reading this article is the Seton Hall game vs Louisville during the 2020 season. This was a very close game and Takal Molson was having an above average game. Although his offense wasn’t there, he gave it his all on every play, got rebounds, and played good defense. Yet, anyone remembering the game will say that “Takal lost us the game because he missed the final free-throw in order to bring the game in to over time.” I remember vividly my friends saying, “He is the worst player,” because of the last play of the game. Everyone only remembers the last play and forgets that the team wouldn’t have even gotten to that point if it wasn’t for his aggressive rebounding and defense. From playing basketball most of my life I understand other aspects of the game other than just scoring the ball. Social media makes it seem like one moment is the whole reason something happened in a game or in real life. The fact of the matter is that the things happening before the last moment matters more than what happens last. We need to start paying attention to what happens before the end because that is truly the key moment.

  3. Overall, I really like the messaging of this article. As a whole, this article demonstrates the flaws in the way humans often think about their failures in life. I agree with the author’s main point that the last moment we can remember before failure directly happens is not the sole reason that we as humans fail in those situations. It is in our nature to think this way due to recency bias which has apparent flaws that the author showcases. Personally, when I do not succeed in the way I want, I admit that I find myself guilty of thinking in this flawed way as well. Like the article suggests, when I fail moving forward, I need to try to think of what I did during the whole process so I can pinpoint what I did wrong and how I need to make adjustments to improve moving forward.
    This article also reminds me why people have done poorly in court cases we have discussed in class. In some of the cases, the plaintiffs or defendants have tried to justify their stance based on recent occurrences. This has been proven not to be a good strategy since there is often much more evidence that reveals different aspects of the case and leads to this stance looking foolish. By thinking about this article from this perspective, it made me realize how this way of thinking also demonstrates how humans do not take the proper amount of accountability or responsibility for their actions. In some of the cases we discussed, people either genuinely think they can get away with things because recent actions make them look better or do not have a better defense so they try to use this strategy to win in court. This makes me really appreciate the message of the article and gives me context as to how it has applied to the course. However, I can not help but think as great as this message is, humans will still default to this way of thinking causing them to continue to fail in the future until they make that adjustment.

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