No one wants to take a risk and fail. We all have an instinct to wait until something is a sure thing before taking the leap. However, that hesitancy can lead to missing out. Instead, take the risk once you’re sure you have a decent chance of succeeding.
Productivity writer Seth Godin uses the example of a quiz team. Waiting to buzz in until you have the right answer in your head can mean that someone else buzzes first. Instead, he suggests buzzing in when you think you will have the answer by the time you’re asked. It sounds careless, but most of us would probably know whether or not “fashion trends in the 1600s” is a trivia category we know anything about. Buzzing in doesn’t mean you have the answer. It means you’re confident enough in your knowledge on a topic to take a chance:
As soon as you realise that you probably will be able to identify the answer by the time you’re asked, buzz. Between the time you buzz and the time you’re supposed to speak, the answer will come to you. And if it doesn’t, the penalty for being wrong is small compared to the opportunity to get it right.
This feels wrong in so many ways. It feels reckless, careless and selfish. Of course we’re supposed to wait until we’re sure before we buzz. But the waiting leads to a pattern of not buzzing.
This concept of buzzing first, answering later can apply to many other, non-buzzer-related areas. Unsure if you qualify for a job opening? Apply anyway. You’ll figure out if you can really do it before the job interview’s over. Do you want to write a book, but don’t know if you can? You’ll be a long way from a publisher before you figure out if you’ve got the chops for. Taking the risk will light the fire under you and help you find out if you’re really cut out for whatever it is you’re trying to do. Chances are you already have a decent idea of what your wheelhouse is, though, so trust your gut a little bit.
Buzzer management [Seth Godin]