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Vail Valley: Put your energy into success, not blame

Michael Kurz
Vail, CO, Colorado

I studied psychology in college. Fascinating art/science, psychology, and although I never took my studies much beyond the undergraduate level, what I learned at school and in life since then has provided me with a useful template for observing and trying to understand the behavior of friends, family and associates.

Recently, a phenomenon first observed and studied by Sigmund Freud has shown itself more frequently in the Vail Valley, probably because the strain of the listless economy has led more people than usual to express frustrations about personal and/or professional setbacks. The phenomenon is called “projection.”

Freud surmised that this behavior is one of our human defense mechanisms, behavior triggered by perceived or real threats to our physical or emotional wellbeing. Here’s a layman’s definition from Wikipedia”



“Projection occurs when a person’s own unacceptable or threatening feelings are repressed and then attributed to someone else. An example of such behavior would be blame for failure, making an excuse for your own faults by projecting the cause of said failure onto someone else, hence blaming them and not accepting the reality of the failure.”

Projection is pretty useful in rationalizing misfortune and reducing your own anxiety, but it may not win you friends or allies, or help you understand the real, objective causes for the failure.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.



Like I said, I’m seeing more of this lately. Some business folks are having difficulty and blaming others, sometimes in public meetings. Of course, “others” certainly have caused the problems. They’re spending less, making more critical judgments about where they spend and how often and I’m thinking blaming them is correct. But once you have identified a decline in consumption as cause of the problem I don’t see anything particularly useful in blaming third parties (governments, past and present antagonists, other businesses, politicians, the media, etc.) for a negative outcome for oneself. If things are really bad enough to make you lash out in public, the more energy you put into getting yourself out of trouble, and the less time you spend projecting, the better.

Truthfully, if some people were out there actually trying to make you fail (maybe my next column topic will be about paranoia), do you think belittling them will suddenly make them want to help?

Calvin Coolidge said, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.”



So to those defending themselves with and anticipating positive outcomes from projection, I suggest a simple remedy. Get back to and persist in the business of being successful. Nothing will make failure go away faster.

Yes, this is amateur psychology and I apologize to the professionals this will undoubtedly offend, but since I’m not getting paid for the advice, I’ll go with the odds that if you take it, you will feel better immediately.

Event update

– May 6, 5-7 p.m., Eagle Business After Hours Mixer, hosted by Colorado Capital Bank at The Dusty Boot. Members only.

– May 20, 5-7 p.m., Business After Hours Mixer, Westside Cafe, Vail. Members only.

– May 28, 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Shotgun in the Sun, Vail Valley Partnership Member Golf Tournament, Sonnenalp Golf Course, Edwards. Contact Ruthie Carlson, 970-477-4001 or rcarlson@vistivailvalley.com for reservations.

Michael Kurz is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.


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