An Uncast Die

The test of authenticity is calling the die before it's cast.

An act can only be successful or unsuccessful when it is over; if it is to begin, it must be, in the abstract, right or wrong. There is no such thing as backing a winner; for he cannot be a winner when he is backed. There is no such thing as fighting on the winning side; one fights to find out which is the winning side.

GK Chesterton

It’s hard to think of something easier – and more pointless – than a post-facto judgment.

Which is to judge the rightness or wrongness of a decision after you can see its consequences.

It’s easy because the die is cast – anyone can tell what number turned up now.

And it’s useless because you can’t recast the same die.

Such a statement adds no value at all – unless it’s to rub salt in a wound or gloat over a success.

Authenticity is in calling the die before it’s cast; whether right or wrong is a separate question.


It’s only too common to judge on hindsight.

Leaving a safe job for something that tanks completely, attempting an athletic feat only to injure yourself.

To do X hoping for something good and instead ending up worse than you were before – is, in hindsight, that is after you can see the outcome, pretty stupid.

Stupidity isn’t in the failure itself. Stupidity doesn’t lie in taking a chance and failing.

Stupidity, if it lies anywhere, lies in taking a chance and failing to see the potential consequences of failing.

If the consequences of failing are too much for me to bear, then I have only myself to blame for taking the chance and bemoaning my fate if I fail.

There’s nothing like perfect information; I can never really know how things will turn out before I do them.

I can at best visualize how I can fail – how bad would it be, and how could I recover.

To take a decision then is to accept the worst possible case as something not irredeemable.

To take the decision, and to post-facto change your mind after you fail – put simply, to think that, “If I had known I’d not make it, I’d never have gone for it” is pointless.

The other side is to judge after you win.

Everybody loves a winner; success has many fathers but failure is an orphan.

These are the weathervanes of the world – instruments that turn in the direction of the wind – fair-weather friends with you when the going is good.

One day you are nobody, no one knows or cares about you.

The next day you happen to do something – perhaps achieve some wealth or recognition – and now they’ll flatter you. Suddenly, people who never knew you existed now find you attractive or interesting.

What you say or do is interesting and profound – not because it really is, but because you said it.

It’s not really about you – not you, the human, the individual – but your wealth or job or status.

Everyone backs a winner after he wins.

Loving the Unloveable

There is the great lesson of “Beauty and the Beast”; that a thing must be loved BEFORE it is loveable.

GK Chesterton

A story about an ugly beast being transformed by love into a prince.

A thing must be loved before it is loveable.

In one sense, this is the Pygmalion effect, the idea that people live up to high expectations.

This then is about the transformational power of love – that you have to show something love in order for it to blossom into something loveable.

That an ordinary seed becomes a beautiful flower only because of the effort and love invested by someone to nurture it.

Perhaps that the thing only became loveable because it was loved; that a beast could only become a prince because someone loved the beast for himself, not for the latent prince he could become.

Not a calculating strategy to transform a beast into a prince, but a genuine love for a beast, that changed the beast into the prince.

A thing must be loved before it is loveable.

In another sense, this talks of not the transformational power but the authenticity of love.

The idea of making the bet before the die is cast.

Anyone can love a loveable thing.

The love for a prince is no different from the adulation for a top superstar or sportsperson – they’re loved because they’re loveable, because they’re the best, because everyone else loves them.

You wouldn’t be able to throw a rock without it landing on a fan of a Ronaldo or a Musk.

And then you wonder whether there is a genuine feeling at all.

Is a loveable thing really loved?

Is the thing itself loved, or is it only the loveable aspect of it that is loved?

There’s a difference between loving Prince X, and loving the human X who happens to be a prince.

Remove the princehood and the former dies; the latter is untouched.

Perhaps it’s no different from a parent’s love for their child – how many would love the same child if it was born to someone else?

But to love an ‘ordinary’ thing? That’s a different matter.

When someone loves the ordinary – whether an ugly beast or an average sportsperson or a normal person – it’s far more likely that the thing is really loved.

Loving the loveable is no different from calling the casted die.

Anyone can do that, and most do.

It’s akin to loving the die because it landed on a six – if it landed on a one, no one would love it.

Loving the not loveable -the ordinary – now that’s a much harder thing.

It’s loving the die before you know what number it lands on; loving it whether it turns up a six or a one.