Nirvana Fallacy

Nov 22 / Network Capital
It is a natural impulse to compare actual events, practices or solutions to utopian ideals. However, by doing so we not only create a false dichotomy but also reduce the space for constructive actions.

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French Philosopher, Voltaire, while exploring the human need for perfection proclaimed, ‘Perfect is the enemy of good.’ The Nirvana Fallacy is quite similar to Voltaire’s writings. It is our tendency to reject and disapprove certain actions or events because they do not match up to our perfect and utopian ideals.

Entrepreneurs very often face Nirvana Fallacy before putting their product in the market. They tend to set unrealistic goals and timelines for the product, and are not ready to compromise on them. At best this leads to some delays in the product launch, and at worse it leads to a situation in which the product is never launched. To counter the Nirvana Fallacy, LinkedIn founder, Reid Hoffman famously said, ‘If you’re not embarrassed of the first version of your product, you launched it too late.’

Just like start-ups, Nirvana Fallacy dictates our personal goals and ambitions. It creates a perception of a dichotomy between an ideal situation and improbable action, and an unfavourable situation and realistic action. Just as Voltaire pointed it out, we must choose the unfavourable yet realistic action. The quest for the ideal and unattainable will leave us crippled and worse-off.