The one problem with having your back against the wall

When we find ourselves in a bind, it’s easy to say “oh boy, this better work” just before we execute the project. The trouble with this statement is that it robs us of our ability to say “this might not work,” which tells a totally different tale about what we’re hoping for.

Seth Godin (of course) talks about this in greater detail on a podcast I recently heard, but I wanted to try to package up what he said and share it with you.

When we tell ourselves (or others) “this better work” we’re actually accepting defeat before we know the outcome. We might as well follow up that statement with: “because if it doesn’t, I’ll get fired, I’ll never find another job, I’ll have to live in a box, I’ll never eat again, I’ll die.” We connect the “better work” statement with dying! And that’s preposterous.

The antithesis of that is to say “this might not work.” This is a statement of honesty; owning up to the fact that it’s not guaranteed, but we’re going to give it our best shot. It buys us the ability to try something else if this particular project doesn’t work out.

Understand, I’m not an advocate of haphazardly blundering through our work, using “might, might not” as a crutch. But careful, thoughtful, generous work will usually, probably, typically work. If we’ve done our homework, figured out how to serve our market, and we send our work out to collide with our market, we can find hope in the fact that “it might not work.” Because it also gives us a chance to say “but it might work.”

Have you had your back against the wall and had to do some scary things that weren’t guaranteed? Tell me about it below!


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