Fatalism

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines fatalism as “a doctrine that events are fixed in advance so that human beings are powerless to change them”.

A fatalistic worldview isn’t conducive to entrepreneurship. An entrepreneur is someone who builds an organization with the goal of doing something in a way that’s better than the way it’s done right now. This implies that they believe that they can change the way that things are done.

This doesn’t mean that they need to believe that they can control everything. There will be events outside of their control. However, they believe that they have sufficient power to influence most of the issues pertaining to the success of their business. So they build a strategy to preempt the foreseeable issues and take responsibility to address the ones they weren’t able to foresee as they arise.

A fatalistic person, on the other hand, believes that the outcome of these issues is beyond their control. Armed with such a belief, they’re unlikely to build or execute a strategy where they have personal accountability. After all, they believe that the outcome is fixed in advance. They wouldn’t be starting their business if they didn’t believe that they were going to succeed, so they clearly believe that they’re going to succeed. However, since they also believe that the outcome is based on factors outside of their control, they won’t put in the effort necessary to achieve this success, and will therefore fail. And after failing, they’ll fall back on fatalism to justify the failure. They’ll tell themselves that they failed not because of their lack of effort, but because the outcome was beyond their control to start with. They won’t learn from the failure, and will therefore likely make the same mistake again.

Fatalism isn’t binary. It comes in shades of gray, with some people believing in fixed outcomes more than others. However, there are some simple tells to identify a fatalistic worldview. One example is saying “I hope that Z will happen” rather than “I will do X and Y so that Z happens”.

The degree of fatalism in a person’s worldview is an important predictor of how successful they will be as an entrepreneur.