How to approach uncertainty and mistakes

August 11th, 2012 by Briana Cummings

[Acting] didn’t strike me as very difficult [when I began it]. The awful thing is, I don’t know quite how to explain it, but things get more and more difficult as you go on. When you start in the theater, and I suppose really when you start with anything, you have a kind of extraordinary conceit. It doesn’t really enter your mind that it is going to be as difficult as it is. It’s . . . the more you do, the more you realize that, well, about my profession anyway, that it is an extremely difficult one. ~ Maggie Smith

Along the way to achieving anything there are setbacks. This is as true for someone starting a business or law practice as it is for anyone else. In his class speech to startups, Paul Graham said, “The low points in a startup are just unbelievably low. I bet even Google had moments where things seemed hopeless.” So you need patience and persistence.

So I’ll tell you now: bad shit is coming. It always is in a startup. The odds of getting from launch to liquidity without some kind of disaster happening are one in a thousand. So don’t get demoralized. When the disaster strikes, just say to yourself, ok, this was what Paul was talking about. What did he say to do? Oh, yeah. Don’t give up. (Paul Graham)

 If you keep trying forever, you cannot fail. Any failure would just be temporary. Sam Glover tells new solos:

If you work hard, you will probably succeed. You just have to keep going. Keep serving clients to the best of your ability. Keep getting your name out there to potential referral sources. Keep chugging along. If you run out of money, find some to keep your doors open while you find new clients. . . . Tens of thousands of lawyers have succeeded before you. Just hang in there, do your best, and don’t give up.

To succeed in unpredictable endeavors, you need a strategy for achieving your goal, a high degree of imagination and flexibility, an overriding willingness to accept mistakes and surprises, and strategies for managing your anxiety in the face of uncertainty. Keep you eyes on these — and on the prize.

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