In 2004, a beautiful blonde dropped out of Stanford University to start a biotech company she called Theranos. Before she was 21-years-old, she had raised hundreds of millions of dollars from some of America’s smartest and most sophisticated investors. These included ex-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; the owner of the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, Rupert Murdoch; and the Walton family, founders and owners of Walmart. Even then-vice-president, Joe Biden, toured Theranos and announced, “Talk about inspirational, this is inspirational.”
These investors weren’t deterred by articles questioning the technology of the company and the secretiveness of its founder. For example, the Journal of the American Medical Association was hardly reticent in expressing concern that Theranos was operating in “stealth mode” and never published research in peer-reviewed medical journals. Their concerns were valid. Within a short space of time, Theranos was revealed as a scam and stupendous sums of money were lost.
How do smart people make such big mistakes? This same question could be asked about all of us who have ever made bad mistakes with money, relationships or politics. It could be asked about every bright and intelligent person who carries regret for dreadful decisions. Now, imagine if we possessed a foolproof ‘mistake monitor’ that could prevent us from making those egregious errors in life that end up being so costly. Well, we do, but like all effective solutions, it is not a magic wand. It takes hard work to deploy it in your life. Let’s begin.
Exodus 23:5, as usually translated, seems to be a straightforward verse:
If you see the donkey of your enemy lying under his burden,
you would refrain from helping him?— you shall surely help with him.