Bluffing is a desperate measure that often backfires

What you cannot enforce, do not command. – Sophocles 

If you’re anything like me then you probably grew up either with lone gun gunslinging cowboy cool figures shows or with James Bond type characters. And boy did those characters love to gamble. And when they did gamble, they got the most pleasure from winning on a bluff.

It seems that popular media loves to portray the satisfaction of getting a win out of a bluff as being unparalleled. But it almost never portrays the damaging effect such a gamble can have. 

And nowhere is this more apparent than in business. Never make gambles on things that you cannot enforce.

On the off chance you end up winning, this can most likely lead to an addicting behavior of always going for the gamble. And it’s a question of when, not if you will fail and when you do so you will lose more than just money. You will lose respect, and respect once lost is neigh impossible to gain back. The people you collaborate with will distrust you, your reputation as a “weak and untrustworthy” businessman and leader will spread and you will end up paying crippling interest on the loss. 

And worse still, people will call your bluffs, and knowing that you cannot enforce them will lead them to believe that you cannot enforce anything.

It’s a slippery slope, and once treaded you might find yourself in the impossibility of not being able to stop and turn back.


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