Change Whisperer – Gail Severini, Symphini Change Management Inc.


What is the ‘sneakiest’ of words?
May 8, 2009, 11:25 am
Filed under: - Personal Reflections

“It just takes guts” – I love this statement for so many reasons. 

It is from Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s “The Black Swan”(1) and speaks of the challenges of planning – specifically of planning while “bearing in mind such limitations” as black swans and how difficult it is to predict and understand them.  Now, you have to understand NNT writes beautifully with a great degree of expression and, without the benefits of intonation, it is not always easy to pick out sarcasm and cynicism.  But this statement I’d like to believe is made with hope:  “It just takes guts.”

But think of each time you have used the word “just” in that context.  The most relevant meaning available from Dictionary.com is “only” or “merely”.   I have used this word for this purpose many times, for example “I just have to lose 10 lbs”, “I just have to get up an hour earlier every day”, “I will just finish one more chapter” …

When I think about it, what I probably really meant was “if only” …. 

 (1) “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable”, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Random House Inc., New York, 2007, p 157.


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