An underrated skill is the ability to avoid problems.
Avoiding problems makes our lives simpler, and smoother.
Anticipating worst-case scenarios.
Building in buffers, planning for emergencies, and gathering feedback.
When you are good at avoiding problems, it is invisible. This is why it's underrated.
We don’t see what would have gone wrong.
Survivorship bias is similar. We look at business leaders and try to learn from success. But we don’t see those who applied the same tactics and failed.
As a result, problem preventers aren’t rewarded in the same way as problem solvers.
We can see who takes the lead during a crisis. It’s much harder to see those that took measures to prevent one.
In our personal lives, we get all the rewards of problem prevention. Having an emergency fund, keeping a first aid kit—we get rewarded for our past planning.
In our work lives, we aren’t often the direct beneficiary. Nor is problem avoidance often rewarded. More likely, it’s seen as a waste of time and money that could be better spent on other things.
The best we can do at work is strive to plan better, develop checklists, and look further into the future.
Avoiding problems is just as valuable a skill as problem solving.
But it’s not nearly as obvious.