Sunday, 20 November 2011

What you need to do to move forward. This is not a call for brevity, but for realism. The rule is that most things won't work and that most attempts won't result in success

Most business books revolve around a single idea that is presented from different angles. The same goes for many scientific essays, which tend to be longer, but contain few new ideas. Occasionally, hundreds of pages will be devoted to justifying points which readers might find self-evident.

Darwin's book on the origin of species was the result of ten years of study and reflection. He actually wrote several outlines before he got down to drafting the book itself. The text, which you will need hours to read, contains dozens of elaborate descriptions and examples. Nonetheless, the message of the book can be summarized on a single page.

This is not a call for brevity, but for realism

There is a reason why apparently simple ideas require a long exposition. Authors of those books are, for the most part, neither foolish nor focused on selling overblown banalities. Certainly, that was not the case of Charles Darwin's thick volumes.

A high dose of realism is the rationale for the extensive treatment of subjects. On the same grounds, engineers take safety margins when they design a new bridge, a ship, or an aeroplane. The truth known by every conscientious professional is that failure lurks around every corner. For sculptors, poets, and performers of all sorts, failure is called rejection.

Romantic movies paint situations where chance aligns all factors for success. A happy end ensues as protagonists collect their dues without effort and against all odds. Fiction of the worst kind renders credibility to fantasy, leading readers to feel dejected by reality and disappointed by life. This is something that you want to avoid.

You will be much better off if you face obstacles with reason and experience as your allies. This is what skilled entrepreneurs do. Whether you take up playing golf or acting, you'd better prepare yourself for strenuous practice and open criticism.

In difficult undertakings, your efforts might remain only moderately effective for an extended period of time and rightly so. Lengthy expositions acknowledge the fact that even simple ideas will be misunderstood by many people. TV advertisers address their commercials to millions, knowing that the great majority won't buy their products.

The rule is that most things won't work and that most attempts won't result in success

Rejection and miscommunication are not exceptions, but everyday events. Face negative results and use wisdom to deal with them. Great ambitions are never easily accomplished. Achieving them requires effort and patience. Those two elements are what you need to move forward.


[Image by chimothy27 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]