• Rahul Kolle

Inversion Theory

More than anything else, know what you don’t want to do!

Stoic philosophers believe that by imagining the worst-case scenario ahead of time, you can overcome its fears and make better plans to prevent them. While most of us are focused on how we can achieve success, we must also consider how to manage failure.

What would things look like if everything went wrong tomorrow? And what does this tell us about how we should prepare today? This way of thinking, where we consider the opposite of what we want, is Inversion.

Charlie Munger - American billionaire investor, businessman, and Philanthropist. Ninety-seven years of age as of today. Many consider him to be a God of the investing world. He popularized this idea and famously said “Tell me where I'm going to die so that I don't go there.” He even said that the best way to achieve success is by consistently avoiding stupidity. Quite profound!


This approach can be applied even to Public Speaking! How can we do a great job the next time we go up on stage? Let’s see how I would apply inversion by asking myself 4 questions:

  1. What exactly do I want to achieve? I would want the audience to take away my message in its entirety, and hopefully, find it useful.

  2. What could be the worst-case scenario? The Audience tuning out because they aren’t engaged or if the information that I have for them is not what they signed up for.

  3. How could the worst-case scenario happen? Maybe if I blanked out and forgot what I had to say. Maybe if my message was too abstract, or too information-dense. Or worse, too simplistic.

  4. How can you avoid the worst-case scenario? Know exactly what the audience has signed up for and prepare accordingly. Prepare well so that I don’t blank out or misspeak.

Voila! There you have it – a successful time on stage. If the performance goes awry despite best measures, and you’re unable to engage your audience, that’s not on you. Control the controllable!


Step outside your normal patterns of thought and see situations from a different angle.


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