I read a post on the Farnam Street blog today entitled, "You're Only As Good As Your Worst Day."
A few specific examples are listed of when this is relevant:
- "Products and services are only as good as they are when they break, not when everything is functioning fine."
- "Leaders are only as good as how they lead during times of uncertainty and fear."
- "From a customer standpoint, companies are only as good as how they behave in a public relations crisis."
On a personal level, I resonate with this deeply. People will judge you by your worst qualities and mistakes, often rightfully so. Personal growth is less about raising the ceiling and more about pulling up the floor.
The same goes for systems. Any system — economic, social, or otherwise — is only as good as how its serving the most marginalized. We can view capitalism through the lens of the billions of dollars that are going into the hands of the rich, or through the resulting hunger, poverty, and violence faced by millions of people worldwide.
When we think about the benefits and harms of a system, we should be careful not to put too much weight on the pros only to ignore the cons.
I'm going to be sitting with this one for a long time.