Plunging toward something terrifying lets you know that you're making progress, pushing your limits, forcing growth. The best, most enjoyable points in my life have been preceded by fear (leaving home for college, starting really tough roles, dropping a safe job so I could get into the software business, moving across country).
Conversely, the points of the most significant stagnation have been entirely devoid of fear. If I'm not scared, clearly things are too safe, too mild, too absent of challenge.
I measure how well I'm using my days by recency of fear. I know if I'm getting too comfortable, things are getting slack and it's time to start evaluating what new risks and challenges could lead to interesting rewards.
Have I screwed up? Sure. Plenty of gambles didn't pan out, but each and every one of them taught me a lot. Most also gave me a great pivot to work with, leading to new opportunities I never would have found.
It's a more proactive regret minimization framework, but I like it. Most importantly, it got me to the Bay Area, the best place I've ever lived.
The stories we hear about are the ones that worked out. That figures, the people who jacked in a $100,000 a year job to found a business that died on it's arse (and remember most do) aren't so willing to talk about it. It's important not to have your vision skewed by the availability of overwhelmingly positive examples.
Life throws a lot of chances at us and, if we've made good decisions up until now, there's a very real possibility that you're already in a situation that is better than those being offered to you.
I'm not saying don't try new stuff, just that the idea that staying where you are is automatically some sort of failure is bunk.
I'm sure there are plenty of ways I could have ended up less lucky than I have. I try to think of luck as a function of work, though. I want to believe I'm a survivor, but I've definitely been fortunate.
All I'm saying is that if you've got some sort of direction you feel is important but you never take action, that's the failure. If you take action and don't succeed, there's a lot you might do to make the most of your new position, thanks entirely to your having taken the risk.
This is the stuff that motivational speakers thrive on. Of course the whole 'when I am 80, I don't want regrets' framework works, as long as you assume that you are going to be filthy rich no matter what choices you make.
What are the odds that I'll I find myself living on the street in 10 years, begging for spare change and cursing myself for having taken that vacation instead of immediately finding a job? And what are the odds that in 10 years I'll find myself with a house and kids, wishing I'd taken that dream trip while I had the chance?
Incidentally, it works just as well if you substitute "startup" for "dream trip".
For instance, I don't regret having moved to Italy even though I certainly have left a lot of money on the table in doing so.
Or maybe it's all just random chance and you're better off laying on your couch all day.
I find its similar to Bezos' regret minimization framework in that if you feel you are moving towards the goal, on a daily basis, no matter how slow it may be, then you are less likely to have regrets about the other 'distractions' to that goal that you encounter during the day.
Just do a little bit every day, an hour or two towards your goal, and you'll get there soon enough.
Don't know where this quote is from, but I've seen it in Civ4 - "you move a mountain by first removing small rocks".
Nonsense. There are many, many different ways to start a startup, a large number of which won't cost you several hundred grand. The list of billion-dollar companies started part-time in someone's living room, or by someone with almost no experience (and therefore earning power) is pretty long. It's a mistake to think that it'll automatically cost you your retirement.
I'm sure there's at least a couple of octogenarians out there regretting their jetpack startup.
I think a lot of entrepreneurs would regret not trying, or at least that's the impression I get from hearing stories of those who've tried and failed. It's just in their blood to give it a shot - win, lose or draw.
That goes for all kinds of activities, including ones where "failure" means death and success just means having a story to tell. People still give it a shot, knowing they would have regretted not doing it. I guess "jetpack tester" would be one such category.
Hopefully something like...'At 18 he moved out of the house, at 25 he started on a new startup, etc.' I want it to be full of events, doesn't matter if they were failures or successes, what matters that they're experiences and experiments.
Hopefully it won't be something like 'He joined company A at 22, and worked there till 65, and then retired.'
Or maybe, my reasoning is the very reason I wont create an Amazon.com :( ...
I'm still confused as to why he decided to forego the bonus. The only thing I can think of is that he had some feeling about his idea and his capabilities w.r.t that idea that he couldnt wait?
First mover advantage has been shown to be overstated (waves at what's left of Altavista and Netscape) but at the time he'd have been thinking "If I don't do this now, someone else will and I won't get the chance".
Remember too, if you're pulling in a six figure salary and have been for a few years, so long as you've been sensible, you're probably wealthy enough that that sort of money doesn't feel quite so significant.
It's much more common to be stuck wondering "what if" as opposed to "what if I hadn't".
This framework isn't so useful for high discounters, or people who believe that they are living in a simulation. For them the short term benefit outweighs the regret they'll feel later on.
Or is there some further implication we should be striving to meet octogenarian values and criteria of success?
I remember reading in one of Malcolm Gladwell's books that people tend to regret inaction much more than bad choices.
I guess what I'm saying is this "Framework" seems totally superfluous.
Thanks for the reply.
Careers are made by each of us. Forged in the flame of your passion to do something interesting and meaningful with your days.
That's why it annoys me when big brand companies call their job section "Careers."
You get a decent career by taking risks and pursuing challenges. Going with the flow gives you a mediocre career – and who wants that?