August 2

This Might Not Work

In an interview with author Seth Godin for my podcast, he introduced a phrase that has since become a personal mantra:this might not work. It’s something that I say whenever I’m working on a new project or a new idea, giving a new speech, or trying a new medium. This phrase embraces the reality that all creative efforts confront the possibility of failure, but only because they are difficult.

All the easy things have been done. What’s left—and what’s valuable—are the hard things. And there is no guarantee of success when doing difficult, uncertain work.

So “this might not work” becomes a kind of permission slip to try hard things without worrying about the consequences. You can always recover from a short-term failure, but if you choose to shun risk over the long term, you will most certainly fail in much, much more important ways.

Today, embrace the ethic of “this might not work.”

Failure is rarely fatal. Never failing almost certainly is.


Where are you paralyzed by a fear of short­term failure? What step can you take toward progress today, with the mindset of “this might not work”?

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