Hauson Toh

Shark Bait

In a research experiment, a marine biologist placed a shark into a large holding tank and released several small bait fish into the tank shortly after. As expected, the shark quickly swam around the tank, attacked and ate the smaller fish. The biologist then inserted a strong piece of clear fiberglass to divide the tank into two separate partitions - the shark was put on one side while a new set of bait fish was put on the other.


Again, the shark quickly attacked. This time, however, the shark slammed into the fiberglass divider and bounced off. Undeterred, the shark kept repeating this behavior every few minutes to no avail. Eventually, the shark gave up after an hour into the experiment.


This experiment was repeated several dozen times over the next few weeks. Each time, the shark got less aggressive and made fewer attempts to attack the bait fish, until eventually the shark got tired of hitting the fiberglass divider and stopped attacking altogether. The marine biologist then removed the fiberglass divider, but the shark didn’t attack. The shark was trained to believe a barrier existed between it and the bait fish, so the bait fish swam wherever they wished, free from harm.


It can be demotivating to keep trying at a(n) task/idea after experiencing countless setbacks and failures. Like the shark in the story, a lot of people will believe that things are never going to work just because they were unsuccessful in the past. If the idea of failing ever holds you back, just remember: "Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough." - Elon Musk


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