焦头烂额易,曲突徙薪难

题目中有两个成语,一个熟悉,一个生僻,但都出自同一个典故。《汉书·霍光传》记载了这样一个故事:

 

某人家有客来访,客人看到主人炉灶的烟囱是直的,旁边还堆积着柴草,便对主人说:“用弯曲的烟囱(曲突)替换直的烟囱(直突),将柴草从炉灶边上移开(徙薪)。要不然有火患。”主人没有理会。没过多久,家里果真火了,邻居都来相救,把火扑灭。主人于是杀牛摆酒来宴请邻居。为救火而被烧伤的人在上位,其他的各自以功劳大小排坐次,却没有请那个提“曲突徙薪”建议的人。有人对主人说:“当初如果听了那位客人的话,既不用破费牛肉酒水,也不会有火灾。现在论功请客,为什么提曲突徙薪建议的人没有受到恩惠,而被烧得焦头烂额的人却成了上客呢?’”主人这才醒悟去邀请那位客人。

 

在这则故事中,提出曲突徙薪者,是帮助你规避风险的人;为你焦头烂额者,是风险成为现实后帮助你的人。显然,我们经常赞美的是后一种人。第一种人尽管对你更重要,却不容易获得重视。实际上,如果主人听从客人的建议,火灾就不会发生,主人也就不会客人心存感激。好在失火这类事故的预防措施简单,主人在蒙受了重大损失之后,终于认可了客人的价值。

 

可对于那些稍微麻烦的预防措施,比如防止恐怖袭击,曲突徙薪式的建议很难被接受。美国作家纳西姆·塔勒布(Nassim Nicholas Taleb)在他的名著《黑天鹅》里讲过一个类似的思想实验:911袭击发生,那些在电视上抛头露面的人都成了英雄,不光是纽约市的消防队员感动了美国,就连证交所主席格拉索(Richard Grass)也因为“挽救了证交所”而拿到了巨额奖金。其实他所做的,不过是在袭击后第四天现身证交所,宣布开市。塔勒布设想,假如有个立法人员在911之前,提出加强航空安全措施的议案,比如安装厚实的驾驶舱门或是新式机内通讯系统,他会受到怎样的对待?如果法案通过,911可能不会发生了,但这位议员并不能因此成为大众英雄,没有多少人认识他,没人觉得他有多伟大。航空公司会恨他,因他增加了成本。航空业可能鼓动选民把他赶下台。所以,塔勒布认为,没人愿意当这样一个没人理招人恨的无名英雄,这样的法案也不会被提出,911事件因而无法预防。

 

如果预防措施是一个大的系统工程,完全做到曲突徙薪更是不可能,如去年发生的BP公司钻井平台深水地平线号(Deep Water Horizon)的爆炸沉没事件。《财富》(中文版)杂志曾刊登过对此事件的详细分析(链接: http://www.fortunechina.com/features/c/2011-03/31/content_52974.htm)。这起事故是由一系列小漏洞引起,比如钻孔扶正器数量不足(可能造气体外溢),又未能及时采购到;供应商提供的混合水泥不达标;采油前的负压力测试出问题,公司却没有建立相应的处理程序,等等。这些小漏洞单个出现,不会发生问题,如果碰巧一起出现,就酝酿出了大灾难。事后,BP说这一事件是整个行业的问题,不是公司自身的问题,虽有推诿责任之嫌,但绝非没道理。所有石油公司都在追求利润与安全之间的平衡,不可避免存在安全漏洞,事故迟早要发生,只是恰巧落在了BP头上。

 

看来这个世界真是变幻无常,随时可能冒出一只黑天鹅。对个人而言,未来的境遇也是难以预测的。常言说,听人劝,吃饱饭,但要分听谁劝。远离那些神仙、大师、名人或成功人士,他们的经历不可复制,往往把你忽悠住,他们就成功了。如果想过安稳日子,应该多听亲朋好友的建议,提出曲突徙薪的人是他们,一旦有事为你焦头烂额的也将是他们,他们会真心为你着想。能帮助你最大限度地回避风险的人,也许就在你的身边。


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焦头烂额易,曲突徙薪难》上有 35 条评论

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  29. wwy0925 说道:
    原帖由过客于2011-05-24 10:31:44发表
    曲突徙薪 非 曲突徒薪

    惭愧,我怎么能犯这样的打字错误!已经改正。

  30. 过客 说道:

    曲突徙薪 非 曲突徒薪

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