This is part five of a nine part series on How to Accomplish Anything When You Don’t Have Any Time.
Previously I addressed a mantra to stay focused, prioritizing only three things for action, stacking functions, avoiding time sinks, and outsourcing work. Today I’ll talk about avoiding the notion of “the perfect” idea.
Don’t Wait for the Perfect Idea
Purpose: Increase kung fu and avoid procrastination
Gifford Pinchot often says “early learning beats better planning”, and in some ways, this is the entire mantra of the startup movement. Tech startups succeed so often because they excel at doing and learning from their doing, while big corporations excel at planning and never get started on the doing. When they finally do, their plans are out of date, or fail to adapt to changing information.
There’s an often-shared quote from Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking about the value of practice:
Jason Glaspey used to give a talk called Build Something, Build Anything. Jason, who has built multiple successful businesses from scratch, also emphasizes that every new project is a learning opportunity. He interviewed me a few months ago, and we discussed how I’d ping-ponged back and forth: Competing for the Netflix Prize taught me about recommendation engines, which led me to create a customer support recommendation engine at HP, a wishlist recommendation engine for Facebook, and finally led me to write a science-fiction novel in which recommendations engines lead to the first sentient computer software.
If you were to judge it by personal financial success, competing for the Netflix Prize, the Facebook app, and the HP project were all failures, because none of them netted me anything. (OK, I drew a salary while at HP.) But they did lead to expanding my social network, new technical expertise, speaking opportunities at SXSW Interactive, freedom to pursue new projects at HP, and the idea to write a best-selling novel.
Build something, build anything. Cultivate a maker mentality, and improve the quality of what you do.