One stumbling block to get started (seriously) on your project

What is that stumbling block that prevents you from getting started on your pet project (seriously)?

When I say seriously, I mean you put something of value at stake – typically money. The other soft items that you may not notice are something like time, energy, mindshare and opportunity cost for engaging with this project. But money is something simple to track. You don’t have your friends ridicule you for investing your energy and mindshare on something – but if you lose money on a “stupid” project, you might get some flak for that.

So, what is that stumbling block that will prevent you from making a big push to “invest” your resources (including money) on the project that you are sold on?

It is the elusive search for certainty.

You want to be sure of the results. Just sure enough that you have a pretty good chance of making it. The pretty good chance should be close to 100%. Once you have this safety net, you are willing to up your stakes. Unfortunately as long as you want this certainty, you won’t take the next step – because there simply is no way to get that certainty.

Search for certainty is a trap. Nobody can have it and nobody will ever have it. You can increase your odds to win but you can never get that 100% guarantee you may be looking for. If that same effort you are putting to get that guarantee can be invested in pursuing your goal, you might be able to move the needle a bit.

In the introduction to the book “CLINT: A Retrospective” by Richard Schickel, Clint Eastwood shares this:

“Looking back, I suppose I’ve made a few pictures I probably shouldn’t have. But you don’t know that going in.I’ve always said that I have no idea whether a movie is going to be a success. My criteria when committing to a picture are simple: is it something that I’d like to work on or I’d like to see? So far, that’s worked out very well. I’ve been able to work a very long time at something I love doing and see no reason to stop.”

That’s just one example there. Read about other successful people writing about their past and the pattern is almost the same. They had no guarantees when they started their journey but they ploughed ahead anyway. That made all the difference.

Here are some ways to get out of this trap (warning: none of these will happen in the short-term)

1. Start becoming comfortable with uncertainty: Rather than trying to be certain, start getting comfortable with uncertainty – that way you are not stopping at step number one and mentally charting your way to reach the goal.

2. Get good help: Your ability to execute is more important than your ability to generate new ideas. Execution is where the rubber meets the road. The chances of executing well is directly proportional to the amount of good help that you have at your disposal.

3. Start providing good help: For the rest of the life, if you can focus on providing “good help” to others who are pursuing their ideas and one day part of it might came back. The best way to change your world is to help enough people change theirs

Lastly, remember that 100% certainty would be simply boring. The mystery is what makes everything fun. So please enjoy the uncertainty and mystery!

Photo Courtesy: feijeriemersma on Flickr