As you probably can guess, I am spurred to write this post as I finally and forever bury the last traces of one of my larger business mistakes (which means that hopefully, the last of the restructuring charges are behind me). I believe there is one constant element that permeates most of my major business mistakes:
My greatest mistakes have been made when I allow someone else's enthusiasm to overcome my rational business judgement.
I don't claim that this is everyone's problem, just mine. I will say that the one thing about business disasters that follow a pattern is that it becomes easier to spot and avoid this pattern in the future.
Postscript: I will add that I think this problem is a common feature of politics. I personally fell into this trap with my initial support of the Iraq war, and I think a lot of others would say the same. I feel like I avoided this trap with Obama. In some sense, the political process has always used enthusiasm, or fear, or shame, or some other emotion to overcome the public's rational hesitation to have the government doing any number of things. The Iowa caucus process is practically designed to allow group enthusiasm to trump people's rational voting intentions.