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One stumbling block that prevents you from getting started

What is that ONE stumbling block that will prevent you from pursuing an opportunity that you know for SURE is worthy of pursuing?

What is that – that prevents you from getting started on your dream project seriously?

I chose the word seriously with care.

When you are serious about something, you put something of value at stake – typically money, but could be anything else that is of high value. The 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 – both from yourself and from those that are in your close circles.

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. That pretty good chance should be close to 100%. Once you have this safety net, you are willing to up your stakes. As long as you want this certainty, you won’t take the next step. This means one thing – that you won’t take the next step because there simply is no way to get that certainty.

What if you could be absolutely certain about how your projects will shape up?

Sorry. You can’t.

The above question was not designed to be a rhetorical one.

One simple reason is that for any significant project out there, there are always going to be factors that are outside of your control. Think whatever you want – you have only so much power on factors that are not directly under your control. Those with a deeper spiritual bent may say that there is NOTHING in this life that you control anyway.

When you look for certainty in your project or initiative, you are familiar with the context and are operating with a certain background. With that context and background, searching and reaching certainty is important at that stage.

However, the moment you reach certainty, your context and background changes because there is now certainty on the topics on which you were looking for certainty. Almost immediately, you will notice that there is uncertainty on a whole new set of topics that become relevant in the new context and the new background.

Either these topics were irrelevant in the old context or you simply didn’t have the time and energy to focus on these topics as you were occupied in searching for certainty on topics that were MORE relevant in the old context and background.

What is the way out?

To be equipped to deal with uncertainty than have a chronic yearning for certainty cripple you.

Searching 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 is 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: You can’t make any of this happen in the short-term span).

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.

Get good help: Your ability to execute is more important than your ability to generate new ideas. Execution is where rubber meets the road. The chances of executing well is directly proportional to the amount of good help that you have at your disposal. Stretch yourself to find people who can take a “leap of faith” in you.

Start providing good help: For the rest of your life, if you can focus on providing “good help” to others who are pursuing their ideas, one day, a part of it might come back. The best way to change your world is to help enough people change theirs, isn’t it?

Last but not the least, remember that 100% certainty would be simply boring. The mystery is what makes everything fun. So, please enjoy the uncertainty and mystery!

Now that we got past the stumbling block, let us look at how to spot an opportunity.

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