If you want guaranteed results, do nothing — you'll be guaranteed nothing in return. But that's no way to succeed. Author Ben Nesvig writes about his experience with risk and reward.
Image remixed from fotogiunta
Getting guaranteed results in just about anything can be very easy… Never hit "publish" on the blog post you're unsure of. Never launch your start-up. Never finish writing a book. Never read another book after school. Never create anything. Never put 100% into anything. Never do anything without permission. Never take initiative. Never do anything that makes you uncomfortable. Never take full responsibility so you have an alibi. Never stop dreaming that your big break is around the corner when you haven't taken a single step toward that goal today. Never have a goal. Never ship.
The results are guaranteed — nothing.
Most people prefer doing nothing. Most people just exist. They just want to live a comfortable life. They might want more out of life, but will never do the actual work. We like to keep two feet in the future, dreaming about how things are going to change without ever doing anything to make it happen.
I had a open-ended temp job where I did data entry for nine months! That's a long time. Every day I sat down at a desk and did exactly what I did the day before — brain-dead work. I kept expecting some developer to walk in the door and hand over a program that did the work for us while everyone was then let go and put out of their misery. All I did was hit Copy+Paste for eight hours a day. It wasn't all wasted time though. I used that time to listen to 3-4 audiobooks a week. That was great and everything, but it didn't accomplish anything. I wasn't proactively doing anything to change my situation. I did nothing and got nothing. So there went nine months. They comfortably slid by.
Why Don't You Ship?
I spent around one or two years writing a book. That's what two people think. Not only is the book not funny. It has the worst humour. I do appreciate the reviews, even if critical. Rebeca's review is 100 per cent accurate too. If you hate dry observational humour, you would hate my book.
Granted, there are only two negative reviews and 39 positive reviews on Amazon right now, but this is what stops people from shipping. Fear that their work will be seen as a failure, that they'll have wasted their time, that everyone will point and laugh, and they'll lose their jobs and have to move back in with their parents and borrow money.
It's very likely that some people won't enjoy your work. And they shouldn't. No product is for everyone. There isn't a joke in the world that everyone thinks is funny. Someone didn't like my dry humour. There isn't a product or food everyone can agree on. Not even bacon.
If you want guaranteed results, do nothing and you'll be guaranteed to get nothing.
The alternative? Ship.
Risk people hating what you do. You can't have it both ways. The only way to do meaningful work is to be willing to be misunderstood and have your work rejected.
Put up the emotional risk in hope of the reward or do nothing. Your choice.
How to Get Guaranteed Results in Anything [Ben Nesvig]