Redundancy, Success, and Supervillians

malcolmmerlyn

Often redundancy is viewed negatively, seen as a waste of time, energy, or resources. Why do something twice when it’s already being done once?

Take the words of fictional multibillionaire and mass murderer Malcolm Merlyn:

“If I’ve learned anything as a successful businessman, it’s redundancy.”

Mr. Merlyn set up a machine to destroy the impoverished ghetto that he believed to be the root of his city’s problems. When the hero swooped in and disabled the machine, Merlyn ultimately succeeded even in defeat because he had actually placed two earthquake machines. Pretty smart. Why don’t more supervillians count on the good guy fucking everything up? I mean, every Hero has a long track-record of royally screwing up every perfectly crafted evil scheme, so inquiring minds should wonder why more Bad Guys don’t just plan to fail. 

Now, most of us don’t have to worry about our WMDs being disabled by a hooded vigilante. This quote, though, illuminates something many of us can implement into our daily lives. Often to create consistent, effective patterns in our lives, we must take certain steps to prevent interference from outside sources. There are myriad possible causes for external interference, though typically much more mundane that Mr. Merlyn’s.

Here are some

Multiple alarm clocks-

Most of us have overslept. Some of us habitually get up, turn off our alarms and go right back to sleep after lying down Just for a Minute™. This is one of the best examples of redundancy in action: setting one alarm clock for 15 minutes after the first one will motivate you to get up and stay up at the first alarm, and will wake your sleepy ass up again if you fall back asleep. I use a mildly annoying radio station for my first alarm, but my second one is a blaring siren. Needless to say, this is a real kick in the ass to get out of bed within 15 minutes.

Redundant Reminders-

Here’s another excellent strategy that is already pervasive throughout self-improvement culture: remind yourself to do what needs doing. I put notes on my walls with positive affirmations, reminders, and triggers to tweak my thinking. I even have a note on the ceiling above my bed to remind me to focus on meditation as I fall asleep. These are all excellent resources, but to be really effective you must take advantage of another source for reminders: other people. If there’s one thing people are good at, it’s being redundant. Ask your neighbor, your girlfriend, your roommate to text, call you, or bang on your door with a reminder to read, write, or make abstract art out of old ashtrays. Ideally, you could have a reliable accountability partner (or five) who would work with you to mutually keep each other on the right track. Whatever your mission is, be it a fitness goal or a writing career, employ your peers (and your environment) to help you make it a reality.

Redundant Planning-

What do you want to do?

Figure out what you would like to accomplish, and decide a reasonable path towards that goal. Start with something easy and work your way towards your ultimate goal. Make a list of attainable action items to get done to bring yourself closer to success. Now, think about what could happen that might completely fuck up your goals. Maybe your computer could get fried and you’d lose your work. Maybe there could be a death in the family. Maybe your psychotic other personality blows up your apartment. That’s unlikely, but the idea is that you should figure out precisely what you’re going to do, how you’re going to get there, and what could possibly go wrong. Prepare for these eventualities and take action each day towards the achievement of your ambition. This last bit sounds rather lofty, and might be difficult to implement in “Real Life”, but making real, planned, attainable progress is the best way to get moving in whatever direction you choose for your life.

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