Overcoming Survivorship Bias: Why Is Creating Your Own Path Important?3 min read

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In “The Art of Thinking Clearly“, Rolf Dobelli made mention of a man named Rick. He was a hardworking fella, and like most men, he dreamt of making it big time; unfortunately, he’d fall victims to the Survivorship Bias

According to the story, Rick saw how rock stars were making lots of money having the time of their lives whenever he went to the club, and soon got motivated to start his own band

Rick would go on to put his savings of four years in the business because he was serious, determined, and optimistic. To Rick, it was either he succeeded, or he succeeded – “Rock band rock!” right?


The problem was, Rick never considered the great number of bands that failed to make it to stardom. 

And sadly, Rick failed as well – lost all his money, and was back to zero

What Is Survivorship Bias?

Survivorship bias is a logical (or thinking) error whereby you systematically overestimate your chances of success because you failed to look at your chances of failure.

It is essential to be cautious of this bias because triumph is usually made more visible than failure.

Rick, like so many of us, was a victim of Survivorship Bias, because he didn’t realize early that the dead don’t speak.

If you are a musician, writer, athlete or entrepreneur; it is expedient to know that there are “thousands of times” more failures than successes in your respective field.

But since no journalist is interested in failures – with the exception of fallen superstars – this makes the mass graveyard of talents invisible to outsiders.

Behind every successful personality are a hundred who couldn’t find their ways to the limelight. 

How To Overcome Survivorship Bias And Live A Happy In Life:

It’s simple,  

  1. Visit The Graveyard: Find out how many people, once-promising projects, investments, and careers have failed in the field. It is a sad walk, but one that should give you clarity.
  2. Identify Your Core Values: Values are the things that we believe are important in the way we live and work. Your values should determine our priorities, and, deep down, they’re probably the measures we use to tell if our life is turning out the way we want it to.
  3. Create Your Own Path: When the things that we do and the way we behave match our values, life is usually better – we are satisfied and content. But when these don’t align with our personal values, that’s when things feel wrong – that’s when we can truly fail…

Failing to do these three things would at best bring you to a life you do not enjoy – a life you do not want. And at worse, it would bring you a life of unhappiness – a life you might curse. Not following your own path usually leads to unhappiness.

To overcome the Survivorship bias and live a happy life, always remember that the media is not interested in digging around in the graveyards of the unsuccessful. Nor is this its job. To elude the survivorship bias, you must do the digging yourself, identify your core values in life, create your own path, and live by your terms

Abdulwahab Tajudeen is a writer and communication strategist.

He is a staunch advocate of quality Education and good Governance.

He is also the Publisher of the Ravens NG, an online news platform, and the former Press Secretary at Gobir Organization Foundation

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