Ruckus

The scariest point in any project is the moment just before you’re all in.

You’ve toyed with the idea enough to believe it could work.

But you haven’t invested yet. You haven’t signed the contract, bought the tool, or told your friends what you’re doing yet.

The scary part about pulling a trigger isn’t actually pulling it. It’s this moment before; where there still exists a version of the future where you did and didn’t do the thing.

Because once you do, there’s no going back. You’ll have too much skin in the game to play both sides.

If you’re worried about everybody liking your projects, they’ll all fail.

Show anything to enough people and someone’s bound to hate it.

Luckily, this works in reverse too. No matter how many times you get told it’s worthless, there is someone out there that your project suits perfectly.

Whether people tend to like or dislike the work you do is simply another metric to measure it by.

Van Gogh sold only one painting before he died. From his perspective, almost all of his projects failed.

Now they rest in galleries and museums all around the world, admired by thousands each day.

Projects don’t succeed when people like them and fail when people don’t.

There’s much more to it.

Likeability is a metric just like order quantity, quality or returns.

A cigarette isn’t better than a Porsche just because more cigarettes are sold each day.

So why would your project necessarily be worse than any other purely based on how many people like it?

Select carefully the metrics by which you measure failure and success.

In most cases, likeability will prove a far less useful metrics than impact or reach.

How many actionable thoughts did you have today?

How many did you resist?

Of those you resisted, did your resistance stem from logic or fear?

Your nature is to act.

Resist the resistance.

Do the thing.

Go.

In his worthwhile book, The Hapiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt argues that the advantage optomists have over pessimists naturally compounds.

It’s true that the world is structured such that the rich tend to get richer as the poor get poorer, but it’s also true that the happy are likely to grow further happier than the sad.

When it comes to dealing with circumstances which are making them unhappy, “optimists expect their efforts to pay off, [so] they go right to work fixing the problem.”

Even when things fail, they have an inherent understanding that things tend to work out for the best.

When things go wrong, optimists naturally seek out the potential benefits buried within misfortune.

The narrative optimists write for themselves then, is one of constantly overcoming adversity.

Pessimists, on the other hand, live in a world with more apparent risk and less confidence to deal with it.

From the pessimist perspective it’s natural to feel trapped within a narrative wrought with hopelessness; one where bearing the consequences of injust circumstances seems more natural than attempting to change them.

Optimists and pessimists can be dealt the exact same adversity and each write opposing translations.

What’s frightening is that the way each retells the events in their own internal narrative has ripple effects on the remainder of their narrative.

Optimists are more likely to grow from adversity because they can antipate rewards for their efforts.

Pessimists are more likely to be enslaved by adversity because they spend more time managing their pain than resolving their adversity.

This doesn’t mean pessimists can’t grow from adversity. It just means they find it more difficult to do so on average.

“The key to growth is not optimism per se, it is the sense making which optimists find easy.”

Optimist, pessimist or anything inbetween, find a way to make sense of adversity. Come to terms with it. Relish it. Grow.

Today I agreed to the terms of a big project with a mentor I value greatly.

We discussed objectives, expectations and a timeline. We scheduled meetings and identified the research I need to complete before starting.

I was warned not to work too hard over Christmas (a holiday I don’t care for), lest I spoil it for myself.

And at by end of our conversation we had a agreement;

On February 18th 2020 I will deliver the first 5000 words of a creative non-fiction text accompanied by a book proposal.

Exactly how this will go, at this point, is impossible to tell.

While the prospect a full length book is daunting, but there is no doubt in my mind that I can get the work done. What’s up for debate is whether or not it’ll be any good.

If it is, 2020 could shape up to be a year to remember. If not, there’ll be a whole lot of learning which gets done.

Either way, the possibility that I could be on the path to authorship as early as February excites my every fibre.

Watch this space. Big things are inbound.

No matter who you are, there is something you do better than at least 80% of people.

It might only be eating burritos or killing cockroaches, but there will be something.

Whether or not that thing is useful to other people tends to determine how much you earn, who looks up to you and the types of people who will surround themselves with you.

Professional burrito eaters aren’t as high in demand as accountants, but they exist (and they’re incredibly strange).

If you plan far enough ahead and work smart, you get to choose what your thing is.

To forge a career, all you need is 1000 people or more who are willing to pay for you to do your thing. Which, with the internet, is easier than it has ever been.

Choose something you love, and persist in mastering it.

You’ll thank yourself later.

What if instead of cataloguing your skills and achievements, your resume listed your weaknesses and failures?

This document is called a Failure Resume, or a CV of Failures. And it might be just what you need to do before you find your next success, or encourage those around you to find theirs.

The professor who popularised this idea explains it like this:

“Most of what I try fails, but these failures are often invisible while the successes are visible.

I have noticed that this sometimes gives others the impression that most things work out for me. As a result, they are more likely to attribute their own failures to themselves, rather than the fact that the world is stochastic, applications are crapshoots, and selection committees and referees have bad days.”

Johannes Haushofer

A 2016 study showed that students who were exposed to their hero’s failures as well as their successes worked harder and got better results.

Failure is a natural part of all success.

Acknowledging this and tracking the lessons you’ve learnt from your stumbles can inform the things you might try to succeed or fail at next.

When the quantity of work required to achieve a planned outcome increases disproportionately to the resources you have available to achieve said outcomes, you have scope creep.

Scope creep is entirely common and can be absolutely paralysing, but is totally avoidable.

Scope Creep is often a product of poor planning.

Before commencing any project, you should have a clear list of specific tasks which need to be completed in order to achieve the outcome you’re working towards.

The specificity and tangibility of these tasks is directly related to how difficult it will be for scope to creep.

Vague goals generate vague tasks which lead to not much getting done.

Vagueness is the enemy of progress. Which is why we all have a friend who is still writing that ‘thing’ they have been working on and adapting for years. I have been that friend. In many ways, I still am that friend. But I’m working on it.

More specifically, I’m working on setting goals which are strategic, time sensitive, achievable and meaningful.

How do you know when you’re ideas are great? And what makes them great in the first place?

For an idea to be great it has to be exciting. There needs to be something about it that arouses emotion and anticipation.

Which is why, “Hey, do you want to go for a drive?” might not feel like a great idea.

While, “Hey, do you want to go for a drive and get some ice-cream?” almost always sounds like a great idea.

Not all exciting ideas are great though. If we already expecting to be asked out for ice-cream, the idea doesn’t feel nearly as interesting.

They also need to be possible. Asking someone if they want to drive to get some ice-cream if you’re on a sailboat in the middle of the Indian Ocean isn’t necessarily a great idea. It’s far more likely to be a signal that you’re not coping so well.

Great ideas arouse excitement and inhabit the space between possibility and expectation.

Ideas which fit into this category are powerful; they motivate and mobilise people and allow us to rethink the way we see and experience our world.

Finding ways to cultivate them is essential because without them, we’re nothing.

Do Something Great neon sign

Aligning what we care about with what we do is probably the most fundamental building blocks for a fulfilled life.

Pouring energy into anything you don’t really care about is a slippery slope to misery.

“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress: Working hard for something we love is called passion.”

― Simon Sinek

This applies in work and in life. Be generously selective with you time. It’s all we have, and we don’t get to spend it twice.