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I don’t know what I’m doing

Posted in the following categories: Decision Making, Personal Development

A reader recently complimented me on how I was spreading the word about my forthcoming book, Think Like a Rocket Scientist. “I’m very impressed,” he wrote, “with the extremely thoughtful strategy you have in place.”

I said “thank you” in my reply.

Here’s what I didn’t say: I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just making things up as I go along.

For example, a few months ago, I offered a pack of bite-sized, 3-minute videos with actionable insights from Think Like a Rocket Scientist that people can implement right away. I offered this as a time-sensitive bonus that expired within a week.

This probably isn’t going to work, I thought, but decided to give it a try on a whim. I recorded the videos in a hotel room while I was in Boston to give a keynote.

These videos have been the single most successful thing I’ve done so far to market the book. They were massively popular and resulted in hundreds of sales in two days.

(Which is why I’m bringing the videos back for a limited time. See the details in the PS line below).

William Goldman, the Oscar-winning screenwriter, had it right: “Nobody knows anything.” (Goldman also wrote one of my favorite movie lines of all time: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”).

In the movie industry, as in life, you can’t know what will be a hit and what will be a flop.

That is, until you try. I can spend days mulling over the pros and cons of an idea—which my overly analytical mind is prone to doing—or I can just give it a shot. If it works, terrific. If it doesn’t work, it’s a hypothesis proven wrong. I can go back to the drawing board and try something new.

The takeaways?

Gloss reflects far more than it reveals. If you look behind the gloss of a seemingly beautiful strategy, you’ll often find a far messier reality.

Don’t waste precious time trying to find the “best choice.” Determining the “best choice” requires you to try all possible choices and see all their consequences—which isn’t possible.

Don’t wait until you feel “ready” (because you’ll never feel ready).

Instead, start walking.

Start walking before you see a clear path (when it comes to doing meaningful work, there are no clear paths).

Start walking because others—including those you put on a pedestal—are just making things up as they walk along. Nobody knows anything.

Start walking because you can take a different path if the first one doesn’t work.

Start walking—because it’s the only way forward.

P.S. To help you start walking, I created a collection of 12, three-minute, quick-hit videos based on Think Like a Rocket Scientist. These videos were massively popular when they were first released, and I’m bringing them back for a limited time (with 2 new additional videos particularly relevant to the current environment).

To get the videos, just order a copy of the book, in any format from any bookseller (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound), before Thursday, April 16th, and forward your receipt to [email protected].

In the videos, you’ll learn:

  • The one simple tactic I use to motivate myself even when I don’t feel like working.
  • A 3-step process you can use to eradicate your worries (This process was invented by a prisoner-of-war facing the torture chamber during World War II).
  • The single principle Elon Musk used to revolutionize the aerospace industry (and how you can use the same principle to revolutionize your life)
  • An unstoppable astronaut training strategy that you can use to nail your next presentation or product launch
  • The one word you can use to boost your creativity (The use of this word is backed by several research studies, and I personally use it on a weekly basis both for myself and my team)
  • What George Costanza and rocket scientists have in common, and what you can learn from both in starting your next project
  • How invisible rules constrain your thinking (and what to do about it)
  • What you should do first in tackling an audacious goal (and what you should NEVER do when tackling an audacious goal)
  • My 2-step process for squashing fear of uncertainty and failure before it stops me from taking action
  • What Einstein’s biggest blunder can teach you about how to launch your next project
  • The fascinating story of the billion-dollar author and her eight-year-old secret weapon
  • Why doing “nothing” is more valuable than you think

These 12 videos turn into pumpkins precisely at midnight Pacific on Thursday, April 16th. To get them, pre-order the book (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound) and send your receipt to [email protected].

(If you already preordered the book, the video packs will be sent to you automatically).

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