September 24

Escape Routes

What does it mean to have faith in your idea? In the early days of a proj- ect, everything seems clear and the spark of insight so profound that you fight vigorously for what you believe to be the right direction. Then, as you work your way through the project, things become muddled and uncertain. You begin to have your doubts. You might even publicly waver in your commitment to the idea so that you have an “escape route” in the event the idea doesn’t pan out.

Two things happen next:

On a personal level, you begin to find ways of covering yourself in case things end poorly. This means that you are half-heartedly commit- ted to making the idea work, because the other half is trying to mitigate the downside.

On a leadership or collaboration level, your communication with those around you might become obfuscated by your lack of commitment to the idea, and others begin to waver in their commitment as well. “I’ll jump if you jump first” is a real thing, and no one wants to feel foolish for being the only one in the pool.

Don’t build escape routes. Speak clearly about your ideas, and either be committed to them or not. It’s fine to be uncertain—we all are—but you must be clear.

Don’t build premature escape routes when you fear an idea may fail. Be fully committed until the moment you choose another direction.


Is there any area where you are building escape routes?

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